We live in a time where millions of children spend all day away from their families in facilities that have big screen TVs to amuse them, and they have caregivers for whom English is not required. This is also the time when parents buy ever-increasing numbers of electronic gizmos to occupy their children’s time – sometimes to “make them smarter,” or to “make them buzz off,” so that busy, busy parents can have some “well-earned down time.”
Whether its TV, computer games, or hand-held devices, more and more parents are inundating even babies with all of this mass-produced “input.” A recent study reported that about 40% of families with babies and young children keep the television on at all times. “Always on” TV damages the children’s ability to play imaginatively and to develop language skills. Obviously, it reduces the number of nurturing interactions between parents and children, too.
There are many so-called studies which identify programs that provide a positive influence (like “Barney,” which teaches kids politeness and social cooperation). The problem with all of these studies is that they never compare these TV-watching children to those raised in TV-free households to compare the shows to the loving attention of a parent.
The problem is that we are living in a time of rising juvenile obesity and inactivity, and ever-increasing “diagnoses” of ADD and ADHD (which I believe most of the time is “kids being kids,” and/or kids who don’t get proper attention paid to them, with direction, support, and consequences). This is also a time of more childhood sexual activity, leading to STDs, pregnancies, abortions and broken hearts with confused minds.
So, this Christmas-time, change your adult life around and give your children “stuff to do” — some with you and some on their own – to exercise their imaginations and give them a sense of accomplishment.