I’m totally uncomfortable with the commercialization of major screen-time technology that purports to improve early childhood education. I think it’s a load of crap, particularly given how many reports continue to come out describing the detrimental effects of long periods of screen time on young children. (Links below).
Studies and reports aside, as an educator I’ve seen the effects of prolonged screen time on young children firsthand, and it ain’t pretty.
Eerily enough, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics children spend an average of 7 hours per day on entertainment media.
7 HOURS A DAY.
Who in their right mind thinks that’s a healthy way for any child’s brain to be wired?!?
I’ll tell you up front, my rant is inspired by the following Wall Street Journal press release: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Strengthens Early Childhood Education Offering with Acquisition of Curiosityville.
I don’t know anything about Curiosityville, aside from the press release’s claim that it’s “…an online personalized learning environment that helps children ages 3-8 learn through playful exploration and discovery.”
I’m sure there is value to be found in online learning environments such as Curiosityville. There are plenty of solid screen-related educational games out there that in moderation can be used to great effect. That being said, I’m confident it’s not the best learning environment for any 3-8 year old child compared to real-life interactions full of playful exploration and discovery. There’s no substitute for meaningful human interactions and hands-on-might-get-messy sensory experiences.
Kids simply don’t need to be indoctrinated into any virtual online community during their first decade on earth — even those that claim to bring children, parents and educators closer together. What young kids really need is a slew of loving interactions that encourage their innate curiosity about themselves and their surrounding world.
Don’t be mistaken, I’m no Luddite; I love technology and the internet and movies and cell phones and all that jazz as much as the next gal — and I see value in incorporating learning technologies into education. That being said, I also see great value in nurturing our children’s developing brains, bodies and social-emotional skills to the best of our abilities, and that means limiting screen time in early childhood & instead focusing on real-life interactions.
Puzzles. Mud puddles. Smelling flowers. Catching toads. Playing catch. Singing songs. Exploring in the woods. Building worlds out of Legos, blocks or cardboard boxes. Dancing. Painting. Finding bugs. Reading actual books. Having conversations. Imaginative and dramatic play. Rolling down grassy hills. Sand castles. Fun, sensory experiences with peers and caring adults.
It’s not always the most convenient option, but it’s certainly the most enriching – not only for kids, but for us as well.