Do you think entertainment is harmless? Think again. Reading levels (as measured by standardized tests) have been in decline for a number of years. Some have argued that this is the result of the rise in digital media, which kids are using more than ever.
Research is still ongoing to get to the bottom of what is causing this decline, but there is close agreement that while many factors are in play, the biggest one is that kids are spending less time reading print media and more time consuming digital content.
With the rise of DStv, Netflix, YouTube, and other entertainment networks, this is a serious problem for the future of our children. They are having their attention span eroded away by a world of constant distractions and immediate rewards.
But then, even when reading levels are decreasing, it is important to note that digital media can help improve your vocabulary.
Nonetheless, it appears the productivity here is improved when there is a sort of conscious learning applied. Otherwise, it will do more damage than it helps the kids.
Too much TV can cause kids to misbehave in School
According to one study, kids who watch more TV are twice as likely to get suspended from school. So if you are putting a TV in your little child’s room, you may want to rethink that. And we’re not talking about watching PBS, either.
According to the latest facts and figures from the U.S. Department of Education, 70% of school suspensions are due to misbehaving kids watching too much TV.
Effects on Attention Span
Entertainment could have adverse effects on a child’s attention span. If you are a parent, you already know how hard it is to get your kid to focus. It’s hard enough to get them to focus as it is without the distraction of entertainment constantly vying for their attention.
Studies show kids today have shorter attention spans because of all the distractions they’re even exposed to. Thinking on your feet is the key to success in life. That very important life skill is fundamentally affected by the way entertainment is designed today.
Success for the creators of social media apps and video games means creating interesting products and games that hook the audience. It’s not just about throwing in an amusing concept, it is how it is designed and captured that will really make a huge difference in how much time a user spends on it.
Digital media, particularly video games and written content, are designed to keep you engaged. Video games are literally sophisticated methods designed so that the player must always strive to be better or outdo themselves. The makers of these items capitalise on our need to compete and not just compete but succeed.
They also leverage our need to reach the targets that are set either by ourselves or by other people. This is one of the reasons computer games have levels. And the more a kid uses these things the more damage it does to their attention span.
It is a scientifically recognized fact that the more you look at screens, the shorter your attention span becomes. But there’s also some upside though. Studies also show that spending time on screens makes people more creative.
Nonetheless, we still have to create a healthy balance for our children; else they will overdo the entertainment and end up damaging their brains and minds. It goes without saying, human being have the tendency to overdo things.
Do you really know what your Kids are Watching?
When last did you sit with your children to watch TV? Make no mistake, even cartoons can be harmful. Don’t just assume that all is well since it is a cartoon. There are messages in cartoons only adults can understand but with the rate of intelligence we find in kids today, trust me, you can’t be too careful.
Thinking about signing up your kids for some cartoon membership? Just think about the messages they are exposed to. Sadly, it’s not just the content of these cartoons that is a problem, but also the commercials.
Cartoon networks may not always have family-friendly advertising. Your kids will watch an average of 1500 commercials a year. Are your kids watching this stuff? Where is the line between cartoons and commercials? Anytime they see a commercial, they’re exposed to a brand. It imprints subconsciously.
Try to create time to see what your kids are watching. Don’t just take a marketers word and think that all is well.
How You can help Your Kids to Read more
- Be the model. If you want your kids to love reading more, they have to see the love for books in you.
- Spend time to read with them and help them out with school activities.
- You could read a novel and find time to watch a movie created from the story in that book.
- Ask questions to make things more interesting and fun.
- Show them how books can be a great place to find answers when they face challenges.
- Give them the gift of a book, not electronics.
You can get more tips on how to get your child to love reading from parents.com.
As we continue down this path of a screen-dominated world, we need to be vigilant and intentional about how we use technology, and what kinds of experiences we are aiming to create for our children.