Learn How Kids Embrace, Consume and Socialize Using Technology

Is Your Child Being Over-stimulated?

By Dr. Vicki PanaccioneDecember 12, 2012

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than two or three not be exposed to technology, the average age that kids start watching TV these days is four months!  And, before the typical child turns five, he is already watching 41/2 hours of TV each day—that’s about 40% of the time he’s awake!

An article on Roots of Action cited research by Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Professor of Pediatrics at UW, showing that, “the more kids watch TV before the age of three, the more likely they are to have attention problems in school.”  This is due to the fact that a child’s brain triples in size in the first two years of life.  Dr. Christaskis explained, “The connections that form in the brain are based on early life experiences; prolonged exposure to rapid image changes during these first years of critical brain development preconditions the mind to expect high levels of stimulation.”

Now, don’t get me wrong—infants, toddlers and kids all need a healthy amount of stimulation to develop their brains.  Not all stimulation has adverse effects—it’s the exposure to rapid images that creates potential attention problems.  So what’s the good kind of stimulation for kids?  Slower paced, interactive activities are best.  The brain needs time to process what is being seen/heard/felt—not constantly bombarded with stimulation that doesn’t allow time for thinking, analyzing and integrating.

Activities parents do with kids that allow them to slowly and calmly take in the information were noted in the article as being best.  Reading to your kids, singing with them, taking them on outings, playing with them are all ways to stimulate without over-stimulating.

And can you guess which kind of toy has been found to help kids absorb math facts and stimulate language acquisition?  Good old-fashion building blocks! A set of blocks can help kids develop in so many important aspects, including:

  • eye-hand coordination
  • spatial awareness
  • creative thinking
  • motor development
  • concentration
  • problem-solving
  • frustration tolerance
  • social and language skills (if building with others)

So, while playing with something as simple as a set of blocks can give your kids a real advantage later on, all that watching TV seems to give them is the disadvantage of attention problems. Which do you choose? From the research results, it sure seems as though the earlier you make the right decision, the better!

As Dr. Christakis point out, kids need more real-time play and less fast-paced media.  “If you change the beginning,” he remarked, “you change the whole story!”


Child Psychologist and Parenting Expert

Dr. Vicki Panaccione has been called, “The World’s Expert in Parenting,” and “The Oprah Winfrey of Families.” She is an internationally recognized child psychologist, speaker, parent coach, best-selling author and radio personality who has dedicated her 25 year career working with 100’s of children and helping 1000’s of parents raise happy, successful kids…and enjoy the ride! Visit her online at http://www.betterparentinginstitute.com/.

One Response

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