Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Electric Nanny

Today's Media Mondays theme is Media and Parenting. I do not have children of my own, but I certainly know a lot of parents and I've worked with children in various capacities over the years. When I was in college, I worked in the afterschool care program at a local public school for 2 years. The kids were a lot of fun, but there was one aspect of the program that really made a strong impression on me. And it was not a good one.

The children would get 15-20 minutes of outdoor play and then for the remaining time, which could be up to 2 hours, what do you think they did? I and some of the other workers wanted crafts, storytime, play sports in the gym, some kind of activities to engage the children. Instead, the director would let kids go off in the corner to do homework and if they didn't do homework, she would turn on the tv in the center of the gym/auditorium. This meant that all these kids from age 5 to 10 or 11 would just sit there in front of the screen and while away the afternoon until parents got off work to take them home. It bothered me a lot because even though I didn't have extensive schooling at the time, I knew instinctively that this was not helping these children to develop and grow in the way that they should. And it made me sad.

While I am not a parent, I do tutor and I think that my college experience shaped the methods I use. I find myself consciously relying on hands on experiences, and I also love using living books as teaching tools. I try to focus more on interaction and less on the use of computer media or movies.

This is not to say that media has no place in developing children. Movies can show things in visual form that will elicit reaction and understanding differently than if one read the same scene on the page. For that reason, it can be good not only to read a play like Henry V, but also to show a scene from the movie. Moderation and discernment are key here, I think. After all, it's one thing to use a movie to enhance a lesson and quite another to park one's children in front of Nickelodeon all day long.

So, does this mean I think parents shouldn't expose their children to electronic media? Of course not. Someone out there may be raising the computer inventor of tomorrow who comes up with amazing ideas to change our world. Or perhaps someone is raising a budding filmmaker who will bring a Christian worldview to Hollywood movies. Or simply the children who will faithfully raise families and use the wonderful inventions of Facebook, Skype and text messaging to stay in touch with family members near and far. Far from banning children from using various forms of computer media, I think parents and any of us who spend time with children need to be vigilant about what those children access and how they spend their time rather than simply handing them a computer device or TV remote and sending them off into the virtual world.

4 comments:

  1. Balance. That is what I tried to do with my children. They were allowed to watch TV, but I also encouraged them to read, play out side and be creative. I also remember watching TV with them, my eldest loved Thomas the Tank Engine and we watched it often. Many parents don't know what their children are watching as they dump the child in front of the TV and walk off. I enjoyed the time together watching programs. We use to have so much fun.

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  2. Very well said! It's all about balance. Coming over from Media Monday.

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  3. Hi Amy,
    Blog hopped from The Modern Christian Wife and I like your blog as well. Will be reading from now on!

    Sophie
    sophiespost.blogspot.com

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  4. Hi Amy

    Your picture really says it all.. I feel that my last two children were raised on entirely too much television as I sought to do my chores without them in the way. Its a picture that may have been meant to be humorous but it strikes home for me.

    Loved this post.. thank you for sharing!

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