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Karen Brennan
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Simplifying screens—part 1 and Screen free week

Monday, April 28, 2014

Welcome back, everyone!  I think that spring is finally here.  And we are moving into chapter Six of Simplicity Parenting, “Filtering Out the Adult World.”  This can be a challenging topic, so let’s jump in and see how it goes.

Kim begins the chapter by asking what one word describes your experience of parenting.  Of course it is hard to find just one word for the amazing and complex experience of parenting.  What would that one word be for you?  For Annmarie, who he writes about, that one word was “worry”.  In Heaven on Earth,  Sharifa Oppenheimer tells us that one of the core jobs of the parent is to carry the question “Who am I” for our child until they can carry it themselves.  What a wonderful and enormous task that is!  Kim writes, “But what strikes me so often is how often our fears and concerns for our children have eclipsed our hopes for them, and our trust.”

Kim talks about Uncle Andy, the houseguest who is a monologist.  He is entertaining, and since he knows a lot, he can also be informative.  But honestly, he really goes too far sometimes, sharing stories and pictures with the kids that are scary, brutal, or even provocative.  What’s more, it seems like every time you turn around he’s telling them about some cool new thing to eat or to play with…something they don’t have but now want.”  I don’t want to give it away—well, yes I do—but Uncle Andy isn’t my brother Andrew, who would never act like that, but it is the TELEVISION.  Which is rather timely since next week (May 5-11) is Screen Free Week, which I invite you to celebrate with me.  While simplifying screens may not be the best place to start simplifying, it is one of the best ways to safeguard childhood and simplify daily life.  Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under 2 and very limited thereafter?  In the first two years, neurologists tell us that the child needs 3 things for optimum brain development—interactions with parents and other humans, to manipulate their environment and problem solving activities (like peek-a-boo).  Screens provide none of these.  Did you know that the average American 8-18 year old spends about 3 hours a day watching television, and when you add in computers, print, audio, videos or movies and video games it comes up to 6 ½ hours a day.

Kim also writes about the orienting reflex.  Have you ever noticed how children seem to be hypnotized by the screen—they can’t look away?  If you watch the movie, “Consuming Kids,” they also talk about this reflex.  “Essentially, if a child sees or hears something the brain doesn’t recognize as correct or normal—flashing, animated figures, rapid zooms and pans, dancing letters—he or she will focus on it until the brain determines that it is not a threat.”  Children’s programming uses this reflex to keep children looking.  It may also habituate the brain to a high level of input. Well,  that is enough about screens for today!  We can talk about them some more next week.

Please welcome Dagmara Marona—she will be student teaching in parent-child for the next few weeks. 

Also, Please join us on Sunday, May 4, from 10-12 for a spring celebration and kick-off of screen free week at Albion Beach.  We will be hanging out and building fairy houses.  Hope to see you there!