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Smart phones, computers and tablets, Oh My! (part 4)

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By Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H.

I don’t want to come across as anti-technology, but rather pro-child and pro-health.   I think technology is wonderful in many ways. I am concerned, however, about how quickly it is evolving, how pervasive it is in our society, how addictive it can be and how it may negatively affect our health, development and relationships.

As I’ve shared in previous blogs, children and adults are spending more time with screens than ever before. We have looked at how it is affecting our health. Now let’s take a look at how it is impacting our children’s cognitive development and their learning.

Children’s brains are developing rapidly, especially in the first three years. There have been studies that show a correlation between children’s early screen use and the development of attention problems in elementary school. This is one of the reasons for the recommendation by the AAP that children under the age of 2 do not have access to screens.

There are many toys, usually with screens, that are touted as educational. They have clever names and marketing techniques but they do not have research to back up these claims. Children learn through play. We want children to be curious, active learners; this happens when they explore and engage their senses. Therefore, the best toys for young children are those that can be used in many ways and nurture creativity.

As with toys, you want to be careful with the media you choose for your children. In fact, researchers at the University of Washington found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos; infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. In addition, babies who watched videos scored 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos. This is concerning because early language skills are a predictor of school success at age 9 and 10.

Research shows that children who spend more time with screens spend less time reading and doing homework. These children also perform poorly in school when compared to children who spend less time with screens.

For more information that will help you choose wisely for your children visit Common Sense Media. This website provides reviews of movies, games, television shows, apps and much more.

Common sense media

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H., is a Human Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 330 or at kkr5@cornell.edu.

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