Toddler TV Time

Another new study was released this month decrying the side effects of too much television on toddlers. According to an article in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (a JAMA/Archives journal), the side effects of too much screen time may not be evident until the child enters grade school.

Children who watch more TV at 29 months old (2½) seem to exhibit more problems in school and poorer health behaviors when they enter fourth grade.

A study of more than 1300 kids around 29 months old found that each additional hour of TV in early childhood corresponded with a 7 percent unit drop in classroom engagement, a 6 percent decline in math achievement and a whopping 13 percent decrease in weekend physical activity.

It gets even scarier: Each additional TV hour in early childhood is linked to a 9 percent higher score for soda consumption and a 10 percent higher score for snack consumption. In other words, watching TV as a 2 year old contributes to fatter kids.

“The long-term risks associated with higher levels of early exposure may chart developmental pathways toward unhealthy dispositions in adolescence,” the study’s authors wrote.

This research, coupled with previous studies, shows that television programs on a regular basis are not good for toddlers and preschoolers. In my house, the TV is rarely on during the day and only at night when the children are all in bed. Yes, sometimes I do long to pop in a video because the kids are driving me crazy, but I curb that tendency and instead kick them outside for some playtime. With more and more evidence stacking up that TV time is not good for the health and well-being of children, especially young children, I think it’s time we stop our love affair with the boob tube and start realizing the very real dangers even “educational” programming can do to our kids.

Pressing On

Isn’t modern technology wonderful–until it isn’t? We had Internet connection issues that dragged on for more than a week before resolution. I’m still tired from spending literally hours on the phone with tech support. Whew.

But I’m back up and running just in time to jump right in and try my hand at writing a novel in a month. November is National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org), where you can win a “prize” by banging out a 50,000-word book in 30 days. The emphasis is on quantity rather than quality, granted, but there’s something to be said for just getting it done.

Worrying too much about the craft or quality of something can become a hindrance if it stops you from actually getting the project done. Sometimes, everyone suffers from “writer’s block”–even if you’re not a writer. Whatever keeps you from starting that project or task or whatever because you don’t have all your ducks in a row can be a block.

As a writer, I learned early on just to start writing, whether or not I had a lede or intro to my piece or not. Often, my articles start after the first few paragraphs, jumping to the meat of the story. Sometimes, my conclusions wait until the rest of the article is complete.

It will be interesting to not worry about the grammar or the content when tackling this project. I’m looking forward to seeing how writing 50,000 words in a month will jumpstart my creative juices again–and hopefully, I’ll have something worth revisiting with my editor’s pen.

Until next time,

Sarah