Amrita: A Teacher with Balance

Amrita: A Teacher with Balance

In India, I taught social studies in a high school. The kids there hated it, so I had them debate. I asked them how they felt about a topic and encouraged discussion instead of just lecturing to them. At the end of the class, many of them said, “You've made this our favorite subject.”

How Much Digital Media is Too Much Digital Media?

The topic of how much digital media is too much digital media is a complicated one. It now almost seems quaint that parents were once worried about children watching too much television, as today the media options have skyrocketed. Today, children are using tablets, computers, smartphones, video game systems and other devices in greater and greater numbers. Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Facebook - they are all growing exponentially. 

Children often spend a surprising amount of time with these devices. In fact, many health experts are now encouraging parents to limit or even eliminate digital media use entirely for children under the age of three. So, what is a parent to do?

An important fact to remember is that you are not harming your young child by keeping him or her away from digital media. There is no real “left-behind” where digital media is concerned for young children. That being said, digital media devices, such as tablets and smartphones, can be wonderful when used by older children and in a limited fashion for learning purposes. These devices should not be abused as digital babysitters. If you want your child to learn and develop social skills, don’t put all of your eggs in the digital media basket.

Still not sold on the idea of limiting the use of digital media devices with young children? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.” [1]

The AAP goes on to state that the average child is spending seven hours a day using a mixture of different digital devices ranging from televisions to computers. They also note, rather importantly, that all kinds of messages are being sent to children during that time including violent content and loads of advertising.

As a limited and focused tool, digital media can be a great learning asset for children. However, multiple hours a day on a digital device is simply too much time for any child. As the AAP indicates, children learn best and thrive when spending time with adults. If you want the best learning outcomes for your children, then skip the digital machines and spend time with them in person.