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Screen Time's Influence on our Children: What are they watching? What is the potential message?



This subject hits very close to home as we have two media-crazed children. Our youngest is six and well within the early childhood realm. There have been intense and extremely crucial conversations with family regarding the influence of screens and literature. The former has struck a particular cord of frustration. With a two-hour window for suggested screen use (Berger, 2018) it is a challenge to achieve buy-in from anyone with whom our daughter shares screen-time.

Shifting focus to content and influence, this has been an equal if not steeper mountain to climb when it comes to family and friends buying in to 'the rules' of appropriate screen use. That being said, there are appropriate choices if a screen must be in the equation. Peep and the Big Wide World (peepandthebigwideworld.com) is an example of an appropriate website offering lessons in autonomy, exploratory learning, and social etiquette through project approach style instruction (Helm, & Katz, 2011). Our program adopted this 'virtual curriculum' for 36-60 month extended care. It was a wild success. The website also offers home to school connections and individualized assistance for parent s and educators. Messages we interpreted while studying this material include; Exploring the environment is an integral part of learning; Anything can be a topic of investigation.

It was decided to dive into a few of the channels on Youtube that our 6 year old loves to visit. We have viewed some content from every channel she is allowed previous to her, but it is time for an updated observation. The first stop is Troom Troom and their version of a light-hearted jab at the teacher/student relationship in 14 Weird Ways To Sneak Food Into Class/Back to School Pranks (2017, October 20th). The 'sneaky' ways in which they bring food to school are over-the-top and (to my knowledge), have never tempted our daughter. However, this particular video has a cartoonish obviously simple-minded teacher. Having positive intent, I decided to view another Troom Troom video. This one was titled How To Sneak Pets Into Class/8 Funny Pet Pranks (2019, October, 13th). There was a different title, but the premise was the same. The same aloof teacher, slightly different topic. Potential messages: Teachers and their rules do not need to be respected; Teachers are simple-minded and mostly unaware.



After this nonsense, a sense of urgency was felt to return focus to literature that benefits children. I hurriedly opened the book When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry (Bang, 1999). As my mind began to settle, reflection on Sophie and her dilemma; Her journey to calm using a 'safe place' (the old beech tree); and return home brought the following messages; It is acceptable to feel anger; Model of emotional expression; Family equals love.

It could possibly be for personal regulation, but the need to comfort the soul with another children's book is strong. The Napping House, Wood, 2015) is a bit of an enigma. This children's classic is wonderful for teaching repetition and rhythm, cause and effect and has been personally implemented as a calm before daytime rest in several classrooms. But...what messages could be interpreted in a story that tells of biting, a broken bed and a seemingly boisterous celebration of the entire scene. Possible message: Be joyous no matter the situation.

References

Bang, M. (1999). When sophie gets angry, really, really angry...

Berger, K. S. (2018). The developing person through childhood (8th ed.). New York, NY, Worth Publishing

Helm, J., Katz, L. (2011). Young Investigators (second edition). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Preschool science and math games activities and videos: PEEP. (n. d.). Retrieved from http://peepandthebigwideworld.com

Troom Troom [Troom Troom]. (2017, October, 20th) 14 Ways To Sneak Food Into Class/Back to School Pranks [video file] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5p2nd534vA

Troom Troom [Troom Troom]. (2019, October, 13th). How To Sneak Food Into Class/Back To School Pranks [video file] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QynVvUP54WI

Wood, A. & Wood, D. (2015). The napping house. New York, NY, Harcourt Children's Publishing.

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