Warning: This is a longer post, but TOTALLY worth the read!!
On Monday we had a guest speaker, Cheryl Kaczor from the WVU Extension Office in Marshall County (and Abby’s mom!). She discussed the effects of media on our children (and ourselves). She brought up a lot of excellent questions that really made me question what I can change in my own life. Here is a recap of what you missed (or a reminder):
The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is a limited amount (less than 1 hour if possible) of educational programming with the parents sitting with the child and discussing the show up to the age of two. After the age of 2, no more than 2 hours of quality programming each day. Crucial brain development is affected when children sit in front of a TV/computer. Their brains can be rewired and could lead to higher rates of ADHD. Cheryl encouraged us to let our babies explore the world with us as mothers guiding them through. We can do this by reading books to our babies/toddlers and by playing with them.
Wow! I don’t know about you, but that was a real eye opener for me. 2 hours max. I need to start restructuring my day. She did mention that everything is in moderation, so if one day your kids watch more than the recommended amount, THAT’S OKAY! Just don’t make it a habit.
Cheryl gave us LOTS to think about. She explained that our children are watching us. What are we teaching them? It is important that we monitor what our children watch on TV and be the gatekeepers. She reminded us that it is OK if our child does not like us in that moment, they will get over it. As mothers, it is OUR responsibility to fill our child’s emotional tank. It is important that we remember we were not given our children by mistake. We need to be present and remember that they will grow up quickly even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. (One of my favorite quotes, “The days are long, but the years are short.”) She challenged us to think about how we want our kids to remember us. Do we want them to remember us always on our phone? Or do we want them to remember that we always played with them? She reminded us that we (most of us) chose to stay home because we WANTED to. We stayed home so we could spend time with our children and be the one raising them. Cheryl explained that the youth of today is failing at social interactions and interpersonal communication. Children are becoming desensitized to human emotion due to the amount of time they are spending in front of screens (think violent video games). Kids in schools are struggling with how to communicate with one another in person.
Cheryl explained that kids act up for one of three reasons. They are hungry, tired OR they want to feel loved. I can tell you that when I am busy with different tasks (work-related, personal or just scrolling through FB) my 3 year old will do just about anything to get my attention. That’s all she wants. She just wants ME to pay attention to HER and not my electronics. That’s so humbling.
It is recommended that children are physically active for a minimum of 1 hour/day. Children who spend most of their time in front of a screen are often less active, and snack more which contributes to childhood obesity. Encourage your kiddos to get up and get moving! Be the example!!
Cheryl left us with some helpful tips.
1. Turn off the TV during homework time. Also, turn your phone off or put it in another room to minimize distractions. Keep the TV off during dinner. She provided us with some conversation starters we can use at the dinner table.
2. If there is a TV in a child’s room, remove it. It’s important that you are monitoring what your child is watching. It can be easy for a child to accidentally click on the wrong channel.
3. Turn off the WiFi when you go to bed. No one needs the internet in the middle of the night.
4. Be the example. YOU put your phone down first. YOU initiate a physical activity. YOU be the gatekeeper.
5. Have a phone Sabbath from time to time. Take a break from it. “Don’t miss so much of life because you are viewing it through a screen.” Put your phone down or leave it at home and just EXPERIENCE life as it happens. Storing memories will last longer than all of those stored photos on your phone.
Cheryl challenged us to use our phones less and pray more for our children. As a nursing mother, this challenge hit home for me. It is so easy to scroll through my news feed while feeding the baby. Instead I can be praying for him. He will be bigger soon enough and I don’t want to miss a moment!
For more tips, feel free to contact Cheryl at: Cheryl.Kaczor@mail.wvu.edu or www.ext.wvu.edu