Parents with young children,
YOU have the power to stop a destructive epidemic!
An epidemic that has been escalating over the last three decades. The epidemic that is occurring is the escalating number of very capable children that are underachieving academically and having unnecessary negative labels placed upon them. This escalating epidemic is occurring because most young children are developing their brains in a much different way than children did thirty or more years ago.
Before I continue I would like to give you a few very important facts on the basics of a young child’s brain development.
- The processes that underlie and guide a child’s brain development involve the ongoing interplay of genetic factors and environmental experiences. You don’t have control over genetic factors, but you have a great deal of control over your child’s environmental experiences.
- The brains of young children are genetically programmed to develop most effectively when exposed to 3-dimensional environmental experiences, experiences that are characterized by physical and imaginative play, problem solving activities and social interaction.
- A young child’s brain is wiring up at warp speed from birth to 6 years old. The brain is quadrupling in size and can make up to 700 brain connections per second. This window of developmental opportunity will have a major impact on a child’s future abilities.
In today’s fast paced, high tech flat screen society most young children are as much as 75% less active in their physical and imaginative play and social interaction than they were in past decades. This is due to excessive flat screen usage. Studies show that on average children ages 2 to 5 spend approximately 4 to 5 hours per day on some type of flat screen. In low income families the hours spent on flat screens, especially TV is even higher.
There is a direct correlation over the last thirty years between an increase in flat screen usage and an increase in the number of children diagnosed with a learning disability and attention and/or hyperactive disorders.
It is not the actual flat screens that are causing this epidemic, it is the important developmental activities that flat screen usage is displacing.
When children are viewing a flat screen they are:
- Not developing sensory motor or spatial awareness skills.
- Not developing the type of attention, self-regulation or information processing skills that will be needed to be successful in a classroom or a real world 3-dimensional setting.
- Not interacting with others to develop communication and social skills.
- Not developing visualization skills which are critical in reading comprehension, learning, problem solving and everyday life performance.
- Not receiving any type of feedback about their behavior.
- Not developing creative or real life problem solving abilities.
Technology is wonderful and it is advancing many aspects of society more rapidly than we ever thought possible. However, until we learn how to use it appropriately in our daily life’s it will continue to sabotage the development of:
- young children’s brains.
- meaningful attention in the real world.
- face-to-face communication and social skills.
- important emotional skills.
It is the parent’s responsibility to make sure their children are developmentally ready to start school. When I say developmentally ready I am not talking about knowing their letters and numbers, I am talking about a child being able to:
- sit still and pay attention in a 3-dimensional classroom setting.
- process basic information accurately.
- follow basic rules and instructions.
- interact with other children and teachers in an appropriate manner.
Today a large percentage of children are starting school with brains that are not developmentally ready to deal with a classroom setting and take on the academic tasks that they are required to do. This lack of developmental readiness and the educational system demanding more from students at an earlier age is a recipe for a disaster that is not only causing poor academic achievement and unnecessary negative labels; it is also causing more emotional and psychological problems.
Forcing learning tasks upon children that are all wrong for their level of development causes their brain to develop in negative ways.
- It causes a child to lose confidence in their learning ability. Children know as early as kindergarten if other kids get it and they don’t.
- It causes a child to lower their self-concept.
- It causes a child to develop a negative attitude toward school or even a hatred for school and learning (sometimes forever).
- It also causes children to learn how not to pay attention. Children who cannot process information adequately enough to handle the academic tasks at their grade level learn how not to pay attention to avoid the frustration. Paying attention to something you can’t figure out is not only boring, it is almost impossible.
- It can cause problems like depression and anxiety.
- It can also cause behavioral problems. Children will sometimes misbehave to take attention away from their learning difficulties or misbehave by taking their frustration and anger out on others.
Recommendations for proper brain development:
No flat screen activity from birth to 2.
- This is not that hard to accomplish if you do not introduce flat screens to these very young children. If you do they will become addicted quickly.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics has been saying this for years, but many parents have not taken this recommendation seriously.
Limit flat screen usage to less than 5 hours per week for children age 2, less than 7 hours per week for children age 3 and less than 10 hours per week for children age 4.
- Not only limit usage but be selective in the type of content viewed. After age 2 some children do learn some things from well-designed interactive educational TV programs that ask the child to respond to questions. When your child is watching TV try and watch it with them and discuss what is happening. At least this way they will learn a little more than watching TV alone and will get some real life interaction. Also research shows that some video games for young children can improve some fine motor and cognitive skills, but it does not take the place of real life experiences in our 3-dimensional world.
Most importantly encourage more physical and imaginary play, problem solving activities and social interaction.
Some parents might not take this information seriously, because it is easy to use technology as a baby sitter. Some parents may rationalize by saying “I was on flat screens all the time growing up and I turned out fine.” We at BRAIN LAUNCH know that you want your child to be the best they can be, not just fine. If you want to optimize your child’s abilities, have them doing activities that develop the brain in the appropriate way, especially during the first 5 years of life when the brain is developing at warp speed.
“I created the BRAIN LAUNCH programs to strengthen the brains systems and life skills that many children and teens are not developing in the appropriate manner in today’s society. These are the brain systems and life skills that will optimize your child’s abilities academically and in everyday life.”
Dr. Don Helms
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