Balance tech with reading

How do families balance the desire for children to be great readers and love to read when smart phones, tablets, DVD’s, TV, and computers take time away from reading? It’s all about balance and remembering the role of adults in the family.

As Dr. Katharine Kersey states,” Always remember that you are the adult and ultimately responsible for the way things turn out. The child does not have your judgment or history of experiences and can’t possibly be held responsible to the ultimate outcome.”

Tech risks

for kids

Children ages two on up are spending much more than 15-20 daily maximum recommended minutes on family technology. Add up the possible technology interaction before school, transporting, doing errands, before dinner, waiting, and before bed. Some very young children spend 5-6 hours per day with a screen and not reading or learning how to discuss matters with the family.

What can we do?

The Association for the Education of Young Children has some suggestions.

Provide people time. Computer games even educational games only provide interaction between the user and the screen. Little children need to interact with other real people to learn social skills and build vocabulary in all areas.

Have a turn off all technology time. Talk or provide a box of new library books in the car. Talk about the book content. Have someone read out loud or tell stories. Take books on family trips and have a technology free vacation to reset.

Reading time, doing chores, skills practice, and reading could earn technology time for grade school children. They can read to younger children.

Provide some hands-on time. There is a reason why toddlers and young children touch everything. That’s how they learn about the world. Scale back the screen time and instead stack blocks, make mud pies, make a playhouse out sheets and chairs. Play ball.

Reduce stimulation

It’s easy for a young child to get overwhelmed by too much sensory stimulation-loud sounds, bold colors, flashing lights, and endless fast action. Researchers note young children get cranky and easily frustrated after computer time. Instead, go for a walk around the block, play Legos together, read a few books, paint with water on the sidewalk, draw some pictures, or play a board game. Wind down with reading before bedtime.

Will young children who are too screen dependent have trouble focusing when higher level math and reading require quiet thinking and intense concentration?

Provide physical activity time

Screens may provide some mentally stimulating time given the right educational program, but children also need to move. It builds strong muscles and helps children discover what their bodies can do. Can they slide, dig, dance, ride a bike, jump over a log, or play freeze tag? Habits started early often stay into adulthood.

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Editor’s note: Grandparents Teach ,Too is a non profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. Writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers.Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan (PAM), Upper Peninsula Association for the Education of Young Children (UPAEYC), Northern Michigan School of Education, U.P. Children’s Museum, and NMU Center for Economic Education.