SO, WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Is your child cranky, uninvolved, and throwing random tantrums? Are you worried that their language skills are behind? You’re not alone. We’ve been tricked and manipulated into believing that TVs, iPads, video games, and colorful singing light-up toys are good for our children. That maybe they’ll even learn the ABCs and colors! Boy, have we been lied to. All these things do are overwhelm, overstimulate, and decrease our children’s development.
Let’s start from the beginning- Is your baby looking at the TV with wide mesmerized eyes? That’s because their orienting reflex, a primitive survival reflex, is causing them to pay attention to what’s changing around them. Our babies don’t understand the fast-paced, bright TV, they're staring because they feel stressed. The screen is full of quick-changing movement that they can't process yet and as a result, they’re hyper focusing on it. Recent studies are even showing that children under the age of two with a screen time addiction are developing virtual autism. This is when the overstimulation causes a child to start stemming and rocking back-and-forth even resulting in low verbiage and social skills.
Then come the toddler years, where the push to buy “educational” light-up, singing toys, line every toy aisle. These pricey toys that we always see may seem ideal for developing minds. They seem like the perfect way to keep the kids entertained and sometimes provide a teaching element. Parents and researchers are finding out that just the opposite is true. When the toy is talking and singing to the babies, they’re just listening. When children are playing with the electronic toys that are captivating all their attention they aren’t interacting with the world around them, they’re just watching and listening to some toy. Kids don’t know how to multitask yet, so event the TV running in the background is causing distraction and disconnect. Children aren’t learning socializing and playing skills because their full focus is not on building a block tower or learning to write! They are preoccupied and not going to do their best. Problems with reading and overall learning have been a consistent presence with kids that have a constant TV background. The rise of “educational" TV shows is all a scam to make more money. When corporations are creating shows their goal isn’t to better society. They make lots of money by getting by children addicted to their show and having them throw a fit when they can’t watch it. They even know that if the show is marketed to you as educational, you’ll feel less guilty about the screen time. You are smarter than that, Mama!
Studies even show that when kids have electronics they interact with their parents less and the parents speak to them less! The heartbreaking result of this is not only huge developmental delays in language but also a distance in the parent-child bond. Hearing conversations going on everywhere around them isn’t enough to encourage speech and connection- it has to be face-to-face.
OUR CHILDREN NEED HUMANS, NOT SCREENS.
For our children to be successful and thrive in their teenage and adult years they need to learn how to concentrate and focus. This starts in their earliest years when their brains are more sensitive to the world around them. Stimuli from the outside world and time to process it is essential for brains to develop and grow. The constant absorption of screens affects their attention span and focus.
The best way to stop screen time is to cut it off cold turkey. Screen time has a drug-like effect on the brain. It releases dopamine, activates the reward cycle, produces an excess amount of stimuli, and also interferes with the development of the prefrontal cortex. Whenever children are cut off from screen time it’s clear to see the real symptoms of addiction as some go through withdrawal. Coming down from the dopamine high causes tantrums and fits but if you keep reinforcing positively, providing play, and staying consistent you will see a huge change. The testimonies of cutting off screentime are endless. We have received so many stories of children’s random tantrums decreasing, children going down for nap easier, better listening and interactions with parents.
Reading books out loud to your child produces the most verbal exchanges between parents and babies. Resulting in not only advanced vocabulary, but a stronger relationship between parents and children. Reading storybooks out loud gives children time to process images voices and words. it’s a great alternative for TV.
WELL, I CAN’T BECAUSE…
My family & friends will disagree!! We know that life isn’t always easy and your family and friends might not agree or understand. But don’t sweat it, you are the mama! If they don’t respect you then they don’t get the privilege of getting to hang out with you and your child. Show people the effects, educate them. Don’t let people disrespect you, the ball is in their court. Your child’s development comes before their feelings. It’s simple enough just to ask for toys that don’t have batteries.
My kid gets bored easily!! Our culture has gotten it twisted up, boredom is not a bad thing! We should let our children be bored, it forces them to get creative and imaginative and think. Boredom also teaches kids how to deal with frustration and annoyance. And also how to deal with their impulses. So for starters, let your child be bored!
I need them to be distracted while I work!! For the times when you need a couple of minutes and you need to distract your kids, play is the best way! Beyond just presenting them with the opportunity to develop cognitive, motor, and social skills, play is pushing them to learn how to problem solve and use imagination. Challenging play such as puzzles, building blocks, shape matching and more give them something to be focused on that will keep them entertained for hours.
THE CONCLUSION + THE SOLUTION
Our children deserve the best quality- we’re not sure who decided that bright colors, obnoxious music, and unrealistic stories are “kid-friendly” but we’d like to have a chat with them! Our children deserve stories that are solid, realistic of the world around them, beautiful, and inspiring. Stories that are full of language and vocabulary that grow them and expand their knowledge.
At The Citizen + Co., we are very passionate and confident in our belief that children under 3 should have no screen time at all. There’s a time and place for everything- we know that computers and phones are necessary for school and the future. We believe now isn’t the time while their brains are trying to develop and understand the world around them! Babies come out of the womb ready to learn. What your child learns in their first, developmental years sets them up for the future!
Romans 12:2 says, “don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Just because everybody else is sticking their children in front of TV shows and giving them light-up toys doesn’t mean that you have to! Educate yourself, transform the way you think, provide your child with a better future.
4 THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY:
- Cut Screen-Time Cold Turkey
- Read Out Loud to Your Child
- Encourage Them to Use Their Imagination
- Educate Yourself