2.21.2013

Screen time, or sitting in school all day, linked to society's ills

Today in "Think twice before limiting screen time," The Innovative Educator (Lisa Nielsen) brings attention to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) scapegoating of "screen time" as a cause of obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral problems, impaired academic performance, violence, and less time for play.

AAP definition of "Too much screen time": Watching TV or playing video games for more than 1-2 hours per day. The Mayo Clinic echoes the warning: "Although some screen time can be educational, it's easy to go overboard..."

You might pick up the cultural mythology that "educational" content is preferred for children. Education is their job, and it's not fun.

Lisa Nielsen asked, "How much does this century-old academy really know about screentime?" and later, "We never hear that we need to limit book, paper, pen, or calculator time...all tools that reside inside screens."

In "Why I don't worry about my kids' screen time, Part 1,"Lori Pickert of Project-Based Homeschooling (blog and very useful book) reminded us that:
"In the 70s, bespectacled children everywhere were being told they were “reading too much” and they needed more fresh air. Banished to the outdoors, they might climb into a treehouse with a copy of “Treasure Island” in their back pocket only to see an angry parent down on the ground, yelling at them to get down here and put that book away, mister..."
Dr. G, in her HuffingtonPost blog, says that the term 'Screen Time' doesn't really mean anything anymore:
"'What about homework?' parents ask. Well, homework is separate. 'Does my e-reader count?' kids want to know. If you're just reading, I guess not. 'Does that include educational games?' 'What about puzzles on the tablet?' 'Is Halo 4 cool?' Wait, no..."
All the while we adults are most likely reading and writing these AAP recommendations on our computer, laptop, tablet, or phone screens.

Sitting in school all day linked to obesity, impaired academic performance, violence?

Nielsen also asks: "Why don’t they address the research that supports that sitting in school all day leads to these problems as well?"

Good question. I'm reminded of the thorough critiques of institutionalized education in two books I recently finished reading: Don't Do Drugs: Stay Out of School by Laurette Lynn, and Instead of Medicating and Punishing by Laurie Couture.

Also, you may have heard the many reverse correlations between video games and violence in the real world. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) states: "Blaming video games for violence in the real world is no more productive than blaming the news media for bringing violent crimes into our homes night after night."

Either/Or Mentality: The Shaming Argument

In Lori Pickert's "Why I don't worry about my kids' screen time," she discussed the either/or mentality typically used to promote less screen time/more outside time. Pit one against the other. Shame the child. Video games: bad; Outside: good. Mutually exclusive.


In part 2, Pickert shared how her kids turn their consumption into production. "I want to learn to program my own games...I want to make a movie about this..."

How passive can their consumption be if it inspires them. I would add that what they see in games and on TV may inspire them in ways that aren't so obvious.

And now I'm tired of standing in front of my screen, so I'm going to do what my kids do when they tire of the screen. I'm going to do something else.

Videoschooling: Using television, videos, and online rentals for homeschooling

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