Brain research and screen time. How can reading compete?

Julie Haden —  : Oct 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

I was cleaning out my office the other day when I came across a booklet on brain research applied to early childhood learning. The work by Rod Ingraham, M.D., a specialist in pediatric medicine and behavioral medicine at the Mill Creek Center in Georgia, provides surprisingly practical recommendations.

  1. No TV before age two. American Academy of Pediatrics makes this recommendation because TV negatively impacts your child’s development, attention, intelligence, well being, and their success in school. Instead read to your infant every day and spend more time face-to-face.
  2. Read regularly to your child from early infancy. By age two, those who are read to have reproducible cognitive developmental differences from those who were not. They develop better language and thinking skills and are more likely to enjoy reading in school.
  3. Children who are read to regularly develop better attention systems and show improved school readiness skills. Reading aloud is a precursor of reading success and better vocabulary development in later school years.
  4. Keep TV out of your child’s room. Children with a TV in their room are less likely to read well, as are those who live in a house where the TV is always on. The average child has three hours of screen time each day (TV, computer gaming) – obviously this leads to less reading time.
  5. Make certain your child’s TV and gaming content is non-violent and age appropriate. Violent, age-inappropriate content can encourage a distorted sense of reality and tends to cultivate a sense that the “real” world is mainly about being entertained. Children with that view of reality are less motivated by any activity that is not considered fun or entertaining. Your child will develop best by experiencing the “real” world around them.
  6. Increased TV and gaming time negatively impacts the development of normal left brain attention systems which are crucial to focused mental effort and persistent thinking. More TV and gaming time equals more cases of ADD in our children today than ever before.

Limiting “screen time” and making sure that games have educational value and are grounded in a positive “real” world helps prepare your child for success.

Our series of apps, roadmap2reading will allow you to limit your child’s time playing our games – starting with a suggested 30 minute limit. While playing our games, your child gets to escape to “real places” like the beach while he learns how to read. Our games provide positive praise for measured progress, and bring to your notice his hard work and attention. Playing games on a computer is not bad, within limits, if their purpose is skillfully promoting learning and fun.

What learning games do your children enjoy that positively ground them in reality?


Click on the photograph to link to the Wall Street Journal’s recent summary of “screen time” recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.



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