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21 June 2019

posted 20 Jun 2019, 15:53 by Carolyn Brett   [ updated 20 Jun 2019, 20:21 by Stephanie Williams ]
There was a slightly scary but interesting interview with writer David Gillespie on RNZ a while back. Whilst it was focused on teenagers rather than children the age of ours, the content about the addictive behaviours related to screens still resonated.

I’d never thought of the notion of apps being explicitly engineered for addiction and we all know about the issues with controlling access to devices. I imagine it’s much more difficult with teenagers, having so much more independence and time away from parents' eyes for a start.

A great saying is “If only common sense was more common" and I think this is true when it comes to creating boundaries with children. A couple of key things coming through from the interview are to be totally consistent in messaging, ie. no device in the bedroom means no device in the bedroom (ever… not just one even…... no exceptions! Yes, no means no). And although it’s teenagers, I felt that many of his suggested strategies for controlling access would benefit our children. If you are keen for a particular viewpoint, please go to "Why screen time is addictive for teens".

So, if we are wanting to limit screen time, what can we suggest children fill their lives with? Here comes the word……..  exercise. Harvard Psychiatry Professor, John Ratey, says:

"Exercise is the top thing to do [for your brain]. All the hard-edge neuroscience people say number one is exercise, number two is socialisation, number three is getting enough sleep as well as having the right diet."

Movement does indeed wake up the brain and it’s something we are committed to making sure we do regularly. In a school like ours, children naturally move a lot. They move between teachers and groups, they are encouraged to dance, they have structured brain breaks and a variety of ‘wake up your brain’ activities. If it’s good for the children to optimise learning, it must also be good for the adults learning and teaching with them.

It’s a trap to think that a child sitting silently with their head down for long hours may be learning. Active children are more focused and have faster cognitive processing. Above that, it’s natural for children to want to move………. and, move they shall.

How might it look with 10% less screen time and 10% more exercise at your place? Maybe you are already all over this ‘modern day issue’. But if not, please give it a whirl.