A usually vivacious and self-directed girl of 7, had been coming late to school everyday.
She spent the first hour or two walking around in a bit of a daze. She was finding it difficult to choose work and when she did, it was easy work that did not provide much of a challenge.
I sat her down for a little chat. We spoke about whether there have been any changes to her days. Nothing much had changed.
Then we spoke about her morning routine. Err, actually, yes, there was one small change. Along with her daily dose of toast and eggs at breakfast, she was getting some television too!
She thought about it a while and said, “When I do get to school the characters (from the television show) are still in my head. I can’t turn them off”
Without having done all the scientific research, controlled all the variables and so on, most Montessorians will say that television viewing and early use of the computer are detrimental to the development of the young child.
So, what is this opinion based on? On the most powerful tool we have, observation.
We have observed that children who are exposed to large amounts of screen time (television or computer), often exhibit some of the following:
- delayed language acquisition
- inability to focus ones attention
- frequent flights into a fantasy land
- rough play, which is less creative and imaginative
Here is what Jane Healy, author of ‘Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think and What We Can Do About It’, has to say in an interview with Stay Free Magazine:
“We hear what we want to hear. People do not want to hear that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that children under two should not have any screen time. Parents do not want to hear that the amount of TV their children watch has caused them problems in school. It’s easier to say, “He has a brain disorder.” And the fact is that many of these children do have brains that function differently. We know ADD runs in the family to some degree, but we don’t know how much of this is a function of this type of early environment.
The computer software that’s being rushed into market is training kids to be attention deficit disordered. It’s training them to be impulsive, to have meager finger control because they’re just using a small part of their motor system. These are the hallmarks of attention deficit disorder.”
In her truly inspiring book, ‘Children Who Are Not Yet Peaceful:Preventing Exclusion In The Early Elementary Classroom’, Donna Goertz, recommends no more than 2 hours of screentime on non-school days, per week, for children in their early elementary years.
Urban India needs to wake up, turn their television sets off, put their computers to sleep and take their children out for a walk!