National news programs recently reported that the amount of time American children spend watching TV, playing video games, using small electronic devices, or surfing on the computer has increased to almost 8 hours a day!
I certainly support and use technology to enhance teaching. (For example, during our “Whale” unit in science my students got to hear the actual sounds of Humpback Whales via our classroom computer!) As a teaching tool it can’t be beat. Some of the other benefits are:
- Many quality games that practice problem solving or reading skills.
- Working with your child on the computer or playing an interactive video game is an opportunity to do something together.
- Playing electronic games can help enhance fine motor and eye/hand coordination skills.
However, as a classroom teacher, I see the detrimental effects that overuse of electronic devices can have on young students. Some electronic activities can have a negative effect on social, emotional and physical development:
- Playing a video game can’t substitute for a great neighborhood backyard game of “Hide and Seek.” Less physical play has led to a rise in childhood obesity.
- Too much time spent on electronics can have a negative impact on your child’s sleep habits, and ability to sustain attention in school.
- Playing video games, by one’s self, increases isolation and erodes social confidence.
Parents need to find the balance between appropriate use of electronics and overuse. Choose games that enhance learning, are age appropriate, and can be played with others. Limit time spent on personal devices to teach “consumer responsibility” while your child is young.School Family note: We have a great Screen Time Tracker available in our Print and Use Tools section.