As adults, our minds are constantly at work. Yes, we stress our brains at our job, the bank, driving home, and even cooking dinner. However, with today’s technological advancements, information is EVERYWHERE whether we seek it or not. Even while turning on the computer to play a mind numbing online game, our heads fill with stressful knowledge if we have Yahoo as our homepage. With social networking sites, television, and even radio, our minds are constantly at work.
Today, we face the concern of mental over stimulation which leads to high stress levels and even anxiety. Every plate is filled yet there is always so much more to eat. But what about our children? Are their brains being fed enough?
While we stress and absorb even unwanted knowledge, many children of today may be doing the exact opposite. Toys may be fun to play with but without interactive playtime, toddlers and young children gain nothing but temporary amusement.
Of course one on one parental interaction is the prime solution here, but what happens when we need just the opposite after that stressful day, some cool down time.
Children’s television has increased interactivity in the last ten years by leaps an bounds. The majority of today’s programing for little ones not only entertains but informs. They happily become educated on age appropriate topics that may fill a temporary lack of interactivity. Instead of just singing a song while flashing pictures, many children’s shows now ask for the child’s participation. Some quizzically ask the child to solve an on screen puzzle or riddle. This builds self esteem while the child is able to learn a new skill or fact. A current trend is also to involve voluntary movement while watching. They want the child to do more than just watch, they want them to DO. Many programs are now teaching them the importance of exercise and healthy eating in a fun and interactive manner. Sesame Street even has an “online” option for younger viewers. Each day their web page features a new age appropriate topic for the child to explore, just as an adult would explore their yahoo homepage.
Though adults may be annoyed by perky voices, songs and characters, many of these programs allow us to have 30 minutes of non informative downtime while our children grow from the experience. Young minds thrive to be filled every second of the day. The more age appropriate information provided, the more they gain from it. The majority of adults gain nothing from this programming. Taking a cool down in the middle of a stressful day is exactly what our minds need. Electronic media is everywhere and our children watch us spend countless hours with technology. Instead of shielding them from technology as a whole, why not seek out what they can benefit from and allow them to be age appropriately involved.
Though children’s programming both online and on television serve as great downtime for us, do not forget that this should be provided to youth in small increments. Age appropriate time with technology is great, but do not take advantage of this gift. Technology is not a babysitter. Children need to be able to act on their newly acquired knowledge not just store it for future reference. Young minds want to be put to use, even if we desire a larger break.
So, next time you are overwhelmed after a stressful day in front of the computer, take that 30 minute cool down with your child. Though technology may feel like the enemy on stressful days, with the right structure and programming, our children will see it as a friend. As the saying goes” keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. I’ll be back in thirty minutes, Dora the Explorer is on!