Active vs Inactive Screen Time

A New York Times article was released this week. How did I find it? Our 23 year old Kindergarten teacher forwarded it to me from her iPhone. She only has the “essential apps” on her new iPhone….Facebook and the NYTimes. 🙂 I’ve read the article a couple of times now and have rewritten this blog post no less than 3 as I try to make sense of what this means for kids today. The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. “…except for the time in school” might be a little harsh as I’d bet most kids are on computers some how some way in most schools. Maybe not all the time, but come on, we have a lot of technology packed into schools these days. I’m sure they’re spending at least some of their time on the computers there as well. The new study shows that kids between 8 – 18 are now spending close to 11 hours in front of screens. I’ll admit that’s a lot, but where do these habits start? We know that good, balanced habits, start when you’re young. Hence the reason that still to this day when I get home from school I have to change my clothes from my “school clothes” to my “not-school clothes”. That habit was drilled into me all growing up. You come home and before you go outside or go work on the farm you had to change your clothes. To this day, much to the laughter of my wife, I still have to. I’m not comfortable until I’ve changed out of my school clothes. So I ask, who’s setting the habits for an 8 year old to spend 11 hours a day in front of a screen? I would expect screen time to increase just due in part to the fact there are more screens in our lives. But there’s a time as well for Legos and tag with neighborhood friends. Where are the parents in these conversations? When did the TV…now at 4 1/2 hours a day….become the babysitter? Who’s fault is that? Parents? Employers? Or Kids themselves? Contrary to popular wisdom, the heaviest media users reported spending a similar amount of time exercising as the...

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Back from Digital Darkness 2008

I’m just getting back to things this morning after taking me week of Screen Free Time off. The first thing I did this morning was turn on my computer and start iTunes to download all the podcasts I missed last week. Interesting, I didn’t realize that was the first thing I would do until I did it. What does that say about communication and learning for me (I’m an auditory learner, BTW)? My hour bus ride is my podcast time and I missed it last week but did accomplish other tasks. When I got to school I looked up last years post Back from Digital Darkness and reflected on what I wrote last year and how my experience was different last year compared to this year. Last year I wasn’t looking forward to the week, supporting my wife’s efforts at school as the elementary counselor was the reason. This year I found myself looking forward to the week. Having an excuse not to get on the computer was very appealing. There are days I’m tired of being tied to technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love this stuff, but sometimes I’m just tired. It must be what baseball players look forward too during the All Star break. Just some time to take a couple days and not think about all of it….not have to be at a specific place at a specific time, or thinking…always thinking. What I was most excited about I think was doing things that I continually put off in favor of or felt like I “had to” do. So what did I accomplish last week: I played the guitar until my fingers were numb…..twice I finished the book Feed I finished the auidobook Meatball Sundae About halfway through Here Comes Everybody About halfway through the audiobook Wisdom of Crowds Also my wife and I went bowling for the first time ever together and had some great walks around Shanghai just thinking and reflecting. Why was this year different? I think I’ve come to understand that I do not need to be connected all the time, that the network is really good at holding information for me. I don’t have to be constantly connected to learn, I have the skills to go back and find out what I need to know. My network filters the best parts of the past week for me. Be it Twitter,...

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Screen Free Week

Dear Thinking Stick Readers, Well, it’s that time again. From April 21st- April 27th Jeff will be participating in the annual “Screen Free Week.” If you remember from last year’s post, this is Jeff’s ‘voluntary’ participation in taking control of the screens in his life by turning them off for seven days. For seven days, Jeff will only use screens (computers, televisions, iPods, etc) at work for necessary work tasks. Last year, Jeff’s participation in Screen Free Week taught him something…the importance of time. Recognizing and reevaluating the time we spend with ‘screens’ is the focus of this week. Use this time to evaluate your own screen time and the priorities you have in your life. Take the seven day challenge with Jeff; be sure you are in control of your screen time and not the screen time controlling you! Take time to enjoy your family, your friends, and the world around you. Try some new hobbies, explore places that you’ve always been interested in, pick up that ‘real’ book you’ve been meaning to read. Take the time to just be. Don’t worry, Jeff will be back in seven days. He will have had seven days to think, contemplate, and formulate loads of new ideas he will be anxious to share with you! Good luck, A Blogger’s Spouse —————————————————– SCREEN-TIME Fact Sheet…Screens & Very Yong Children 1. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to avoid television and other electronic media for children two years of age and under.–AAP statement, August 2, 1999 2. Overweight U.S. babies are more numerous since 1980, a study in the journal Obesity found, growing to 6% from 3% of those under 6 months old. Wall Street Journal 2006 3. Seventy percent of day-care centers use TV during a typical day.–Tashman, Billy, “Sorry Ernie, TV isn’t Teaching,” New York Times, Nov. 12, 1994 4. In a study of preschoolers (ages 1-4), a child’s risk of being overweight increased by six percent for every hour of television watched per day. If that child had a TV in his or her bedroom, the odds of being overweight jumped an additional thirty-one percent for every hour watched. Preschool children with TVs in their bedroom watched an additional 4.8 hours of TV or videos every week.–Dennison, et.al. 2002 5. Research now indicates that for every hour of television children watch each day, their risk of developing attention-related problems...

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