TECHNOLOGY AND CHILDREN’S BRAINS
How did a family successfully cut technology out of their child’s life and what were the surprising results?
I interviewed my daughter Erika Frazer, a new RN and the mother of a four year old and a 2 month old, after they made a seismic change in their household to cut out technology. I was surprised when she told me that her husband Steve was behind it all.
What made you suddenly decide to turn off all technology? Not just the TV, but the iPad and the cell phone?
“I’d been hearing about the negative effects of technology, and kept it all off during the day, but we were used to the TV being on a lot and Dad had his iPhone and iPad in hand.
He watched a Ted Talk about the effects of TV on children ‘s brains.”http://www.wimp.com/mediachildren/ See more below.
“Since seeing the report, we only turn on the TV after kid’s bedtimes.”
What about youtube videos about nature and science?
After being off technology for two weeks, Steve let her watch some educational youtube videos about insects for about 10 minutes one Saturday and her attitude and demeanor changed noticeably. She became demanding and whiny.
Steve and Mia
So what are the results with your four year old? Amazing.! She’s more subdued. Naps had been a problem for the past year or longer. She wouldn’t nap, even though she was tired. She was hyperactive, demanding and whiny. Now, she’s able to shut down enough to take naps every day, and she sleeps all night in her own bed. Before, she was constantly coming into our bed at some point in the night.
Did you make any other changes during this time? No, we’ve always had a fairly good schedule for eating, bedtime and naps, and we’ve always had a healthy diet with limited sugar. Most recently, we’ve also eliminated all sugar for her.
Is there any place for TV in your family now? Yes, recently we all sat down to watch Frozen, and had popcorn, and laughed and talked about it together. So we may do something special like that once or twice a month. After two weeks, I watched for a program that is slower paced, like Sheriff Callie, with no flashing, fast-paced backgrounds, up to 30” minutes a day. She’s still very active, that’s normal for her, but before, she was feisty and overactive.
What does she do instead? Now she’ll sit down and look at books all on her own for a half hour and she’s just generally more focused. During the baby’s nap we’ll do one creative project and then one dot to dot or work on numbers. She seems to be more absorbed in what she’s doing, and morerelaxed. She’s able to sit and play with clay for an hour. The big thing is that Dad’s on board, which makes all the difference. The change is phenomenal. We’ve been taking a family walk every night. Every day Steve comes home and he wants to take a walk because he’s wearing a fitness band on his wrist and he wants to log in miles for his team. It makes all the difference!
More about Dimitri Christakis’ TED Talk:
Prolonged exposure to rapid change during the critical period of brain development, preconditions the mind to expect high levels of stimulation, creating inattention in later life. Children are now expecting a reality that doesn’t actually exist. Baby Einstein is a good example of this.
The more children watch TV before the age of three, the more likely they are to have attentional problems. Specifically, for each hour they watch TV, the chances of them having attentional problems increases by 10%. The more cognitive stimulation parents or nannies do, such as reading, singing, going to a museum or zoo, reduces the chances of attentional problems by about 30%.