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What Is “Too Much” When It Comes to Young Children And Consumer Electronics?

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.
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#2 Kasey Smith 2013-03-26 22:42
Thank you for writing this. It was very imformational.
#1 Best eBook Reader 2010-02-11 18:55
I agree that kids should be out more playing as I did as a kid (35 years ago.) True, we didn't have computers or video games and out TV had 3 channels! But it is sad that kids no longer experience the joy of running through the woods and climbing trees. I also agree that parents should make sure their kids don't abuse their time on the computer or playing games. I know for a fact that spending long hours on the computer affects sleep habits as I work on the computer up to midnight and even though I am exhausted I can't sleep when I go to bed.
Good article,

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?

Yes - 31.6%
Sometimes - 25.4%
No - 37.4%

Total votes: 4919
The voting for this poll has ended on: June 25, 2016