Will ya turn off that TV!? by Susan Day

Since the invention of the moving picture box, parents have been yelling at their kids to turn it off, and go outside and play.

Today more than ever, kids are so heavily connect to screens we may have to ask ourselves is technology hindering or helping our children and grandchildren to read books. And by books, I mean real ones made with ink and paper!

Parents are allowing their young infants and toddlers to use tablets and smartphones. Why? Because there are thousands of games and apps which entertain and educate them. But is this the right way to learn because it’s cheap and easy to use?

Without doubt many parents and grandparents are concerned that their children are spending too much time in front of screens, and not enough time playing outside or reading story books.

Too Much Screen Time?

What is ‘screen time?’ While many of us grandparents certainly spent time in front of the big screen of our televisions, there certainly wasn’t a term for it. Now, children are spending so much time in front of the television experts and researchers have coined a new phrase – screen time.

We all know kids need to learn how to use computers, and that safely engaging online is an important part of building skills they will need in their careers. However, spending too much time playing games, texting, and watching videos will have an effect on a child’s ability to learn the fundamentals of their language. This, in turn, can have an impact on their ability to learn to read and write, and their careers later in life.

How many words should a child know?

An average vocabulary for a four year old, for example, is 3,000 to 4,000 words. Children learn the majority of words they are ever going to learn before they get to school. Sadly, there are children beginning school with a vocabulary of only 500 words. This means they may never develop the language skills needed to do well in life. While you may not want your child to grow up to be an author or a journalist; you would want them to be able to put a complaint letter together or create a thorough resume for a job.

What can we do to help children develop a love of reading and books?

There are many things which you can do to help. Share reading times with a child or visit your local library together. Talk about books, and the types of stories which are available. Go to bookshops or reading events, and make books a big part of your shared lives.

It’s up to all of us to engage children with quality “off-screen” activities so they can learn to grow and develop as best they can.

Who is Susan Day?

Susan Day, children’s author and writer, has developed a 7 Step Guide to Help Children Fall in Love with Books and Reading. Her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips to help parents and grandparents engage children with books. You can download the guide here: http://www.astrosadventuresbookclub.com/

Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three boss cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo. Apart from writing and reading, she loves painting, and gardening.

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11 thoughts on “Will ya turn off that TV!? by Susan Day

  1. Kenneth Weene

    Okay,, I admit it, I watch way too much television, but there are many other better things to do, especially for kids. Absolutely, go outside and play … sometimes. BUT, the best thing to do is learn to read and get to the library, the bookstore (if you can find one) and the classroom. Use all that time you save to widen your horizons and to workout your mind.

  2. Trish Jackson

    You ending statement resonates the most with me — it is up to us, the parents and grandparents to encourage kids to engage in other outdoor activities.

    1. Susan Day

      Thanks, Trish. It’s just a matter of putting a bit of thought into what you and the kids can do. Things like: go for a walk, or draw on the pavement with chalk … easy, simple and fun 🙂

  3. James L. Secor

    Well, y’know. . .so many of our age peers were read to and yet so many pretty much stopped reading post HS and, if they went to college, post college. So, reading to your kids isn’t going to solve the problem.
    But one thing is very, very different from our time: there is often no parent at home. Not just because there are an increased number of single heads of household, but because both parents work and “don’t have time” once they get home, often enough post-dinner time. There’s never anyone there (and never anyone there to read to them anyway). No boundaries, no direction, virtually no social skills, no ability to discern behaviors. . . .

    1. Susan

      You raise some interesting points, James.
      I was a ‘latch-key’ kid and didn’t get much time with two working parents.
      There is a program gaining attraction across the globe encouraging children to read to their pet dogs – it’s not the answer, but I suppose it is better than nothing.

  4. Susan Day

    I love TV too, I have to confess, but I hate seeing kids transfixed by it. My grandkids and I have a great time outside exploring or just getting dirty. And, although we’re not doing much we end up talking and sharing our ideas and thoughts.

  5. Micki Peluso

    Well done, Susan.
    I fear reading is becoming a lost art to today’s generation. They do their homework on the computer, often taking it word for word instead of putting it into their own words, add a fancy picture and get a good grade. I cannot get some of my grandchildren to read my books or stories and half the time they are in them!!!
    The art of reading for pleasure is becoming unknown to them. They read what they have to, write a passable report and get back to texting and violent video games, often multi-tasking all three. The brain does not like multitasking. It needs to work on one item, thought, or project at time. Worse, spellcheck has taking away their capacity for memorizing spelling words and texting has destroyed out beautiful language. Our children do not know the pleasure of holding a book, feeling the texture, mulling over the pictures and stretching out in a comfortable spot—and just lose themselves in the story.

    Amazon is no help by giving away sample chapters and free or nearly free book pages in which they can skim, jump around through the free pages and write a passable book report without ever reading the book. Sadly, they don’t even realize what they are missing.

  6. Steve Lindahl

    I love your suggestions about how to help children develop a love of reading. When mine were young I used to drive them to the bus stop, where we’d sit in our car and read while we waited for the school bus. I still had books I had enjoyed as a child, so, among others, we read The Heart of a Dog by Albert Payson Terhune and The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier. What a wonderful experience, to pass down the feelings I’d had when I’d first read those books. Both my daughter and my son still love to read today and I think sharing our reading had a lot to do with that.

    Screen time has changed over the years. When I was young the TV choices were limited. Now, with recording options and streaming options, children can watch quality TV rather than simply turning to the tube to see what’s on. That’s great, but it also means that parents need to be careful about what their children are watching, rather than simply how much. And TV is not the only option. Parents need to encourage their children to find a balance between physical activity, TV watching, computer time, and reading. It can be hard, but it’s important.

  7. James L. Secor

    And we miss this point: TV could produce more. . .ennobling and intelligent programming instead of the mind-numbing blither it now does. Now the TV execs et al have the kids’ attention, they could actually DO something with it. Alas. It’s not solely money-directed, either; that’s a simplistic excuse (but true). There is no desire. Who owns and directs programming, who makes airing decisions–these people are greatly at fault. So, not reading in the real world could be a non-item, as there is an unstated assumption of knowledge base, what is useful in our discussion.


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