What Are We Feeding Our Kids?

  Bet you thought I was going to talk about all the gross stuff hidden in “kid” foods like hot dogs, mac and cheese and freezer pizza, right?

  Nope, I am talking about feeding their Brains!  Hungry for tactile, hands on, run around outside and play, kitchen table turned tent, kind of stuff.

  Today I am asking you to watch this week at how often your children’s brain “consume” fast food, sugar and junk.

  Lets say playing Xbox, PSIII or even Wii, is like eating McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries.  Once in a while is ok, for a special treat, right?!  But if you eat this McDonald’s meal every day, your health is going to go downhill. 

McDonald'scredit

  I know its “In” to let kids play video games because it keeps them quiet and with Wii, they can at least enjoy it while being active, right?

   For us, we have decided no video games at all for now. {This can be re-addressed later as they get older.} The decision comes much easier now that Dale put away his video games and quit Xbox Live. 

  What about TV time? Regular shows like PBS’s line up of Daniel Tigers Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Super Why.  I am not including cable shows, because we don’t have cable. {From what I hear, we aren’t missing much but sassy, too big for their britches, wanna-be-teenage 9 year-olds, on the kids channels now!}  

  If Xbox is fast food, then those PBS shows, are little Lollipops or a candy treat. They are sweet, they are sugary, and they keep our kids quiet right?! How bad can they be?

Pretty bad if ingested every day, all day long.

Candy

  As a mom of young children, its important to me, to really limit Tv time, because I want them to play and use their imaginations.  The rule at our house is school kids don’t get TV time during the school week, and the little ones at home get an hour total, spent usually between 9-10am.  {That way Mommy can prep supper, or even get a shower!} That hour of media time can also be spent on an educational lap top or computer game, their choice.

   I used to set a timer, but I am better now at watching that it doesn’t go over an hour.  And, all the kids know when the words come up at the end of a show, the tv goes off.  If it doesn’t, then they are grounded the next day from any media time!!!! 

  Setting a timer will train your brain too, what an hour feels like, so all of a sudden 2 hours hasn’t passed you by.  Also, the kids quickly learned that if you ask for laptop time the last 15 minutes of Sesame Street, mom will say no.

“Sorry Pax, One or the other, not both!” 

laptop toy

  We try to take it a step further, and promote TV time to be educational, or about Jesus, that way they are still learning during that hour.  But, I sure don’t mind when they want to watch a fun longer movie once in a while. Just not every day, or even every week!  {When we are all sick, there is grace for this hour time to be longer, as we all rest and try to heal! But, they also love to listen to Adventure in Odyssey Cd’s…..that has been the BEST investment ever!}

 In the evening, Dale helps promote this by keeping the TV off until the children are all in bed. I am so blessed that sometimes, he doesn’t even turn it on at all! {Unless of course, there is some AMAZING football game he has to catch the end of.} He finds too, that the kids don’t play as well when it’s on.

    So, let’s go back to TV time during the day when we are home with the children……

  I know, I know, we SAHM’s can all get LOTS done while our kids do these activities, because they are so darn quiet!  But, just like sucking on a sweet little sucker every day, eventually there is a cavity, or problem.

Did you know?  {source for the following info}

The average American child watches about 4 hours of television a day [Source: AAP], while 20 percent of children under 2 have televisions in their rooms.   

Did you know…….

 That more and more parents are allowing their tiny babies to watch videos on their phones. Some will even lay them in front of the TV, thinking it is harmless, when in fact, the flashing screen and loud sounds can actually disrupt important brain connections that need to be made in those early on months and even up to the first two years….. 

 Among babies 3 months old and younger, 40% watch TV, with the percentage increasing significantly for children age 2 and younger. 

A study in 2003 found that children 6 months to 6 years old spend an average of two hours a day dealing with “screen media” like televisions, computers and video games. 

The study also revealed a correlation between time spent watching television and difficulty reading.

Researchers contend that even {Baby Einstein Videos} don’t provide this stimulation…they don’t provide the benefits they claim, and they may even do harm.  

   

To determine how programs like “Baby Einstein” affected development, they focused on vocabulary:

  On average, for every hour a day a child {8 months to 16 months} watched these programs he or she knew six to eight fewer words compared to children of the same age that didn’t watch…….

  One of the researchers involved with the “Baby Einstein” study said that he would prefer that parents watch television with their children, if they allow their children to watch TV at all. That way at least the parents would be engaging with their children and helping them to understand unfamiliar concepts on the screen. The creators of the “Baby Einstein” series offer the same advice! 

  Babies of today are also missing out on the stimuli that comes from seeing Mommy face to face during play time, and lying in her arms instead of the car seat when out together.
The quiet, non flashing, non-noisy toys of yesteryear, are being passed by in stores to pick up the lights, sounds and “entertain me” toys of today.  All the lights and noise can actually over-stimulate our babies and just like watching TV, it can cause them to miss out on some very important development and brain connections. 
 

Reading time....Baby Pax, looking at a book

A child’s brain is very sensitive before age 2. It’s still developing neural connections and growing in size. Because of this sensitivity, it’s important for babies to have a lot of interactive stimulation to learn and develop.

  Is it any wonder that after all the tv and playtime with flashing, noisy toys, these children are less likely to want to sit in school and color a picture?

Why would they? It doesn’t sing, dance, do flips or flash lights at them!

There are many, many good sources on the web for good ol’ fashioned wooden toys, or soft board books to start giving your baby to play with.  And maybe, just maybe, when the batteries run out on your Lights and Sounds baby toy, leave it that way.

So how about a Media Detox for our kiddos this week?  

What?!

You mean no computer, no iPad, Tablet, Laptop or TV time for SEVEN WHOLE DAYS?  

Are you crazy!?!?!?!

Maybe.  🙂  

  We all know the kids will whine and be BORED at first, you will be irritated and wonder why the heck you are even trying this, but just wait……

With a detox, you always feel worse before you feel better, right!?  

  I bet, by the end of a week, or maybe two weeks for those die-hard media fans, your children will be playing so nicely together!

  They might even disappear under a kitchen table tent, out into the backyard, or into a play room-turned castle for hours, as they travel to far away lands!!! All without needing media to occupy their thoughts!

  I bet you will be surprised how the tone of your home feels different, too!  

Avery made herself a reading chair

  Next, I want to encourage you to replace 20 minutes of that normal slot of media time, reading out loud to your kids. 

  This can also be done at the table while they eat lunch, right before they go down for afternoon naps, or even save it for before bed. 

Set that time aside and watch it grow into a special family tradition.    

Reading

And, in the long run? Reading will make them better students, too! 

Reading

Additional Info:

  • Today, kids under 2 spend more than twice as much time watching videos, as they do being read to.
  • In 2/3 of households, TVs are on during meals. 
  • In 75% of households, TVs are on when no one is watching them.
  • More than 70% of kids have TVs in their bedrooms 
  • Only 1/3 of households have media-consumption rules

  “No surprise, more media is consumed in households in which TVs are always on, where there are no media consumption rules, and where kids have TVs in their bedrooms.  And, no surprise, kids who consume the most media get the worst grades. (but is this cause or effect?)”

  The original play station

 Here’s to “Feeding” our precious bundles of joy some good wholesome “Food” this week….
Happy Detox!

Hugs, T

 “You’ll see your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls, not the glare of screens.” Ann Voskamp

{Source for parts of this post}

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Want to read more?  

Additional Info & Stats

More reading statistics here:  “Mommy, Reading Makes My Brain Strong!”

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19 thoughts on “What Are We Feeding Our Kids?

  1. This will porbably be another one of those post that people don’t like! But, TOUGH! It is what need to be heard! We don’t to video games here. We do have a Wii but, that is only on when we are playing together as a family or…once in a while while mommy is on the phone. We don’t really watch tv that much either. We are trying to be more carful as to what is going into our kids heads! We are trying to watch more family movies.
    Thanks so much for writting this post. I love how when I am feeling like we are the “weird family on the block” you write a post that tells me it’s OK to be weird!:)
    Thank you! Love and hugs,
    Kristina ❤

  2. I LOVE this post!!!! Since I don’t have kids, I typically don’t express my similar feelings to those that do 😉 I am ALL about books, imaginative toys, “playing house”, etc.! Thanks for sharing!!!!!!!

  3. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this info. It’s a serious matter to consider too. I love the idea of ‘detoxing’ kids from technology and letting them learn to play and be kids. Awesome post! Thanks for your courage to share. XO

  4. Hummm…..interesting that you should post this! I just put a blurb about super heros, in my latest newsletter at preschool. I believe it was an excellent “opener” leading the way to send this article out to families. Thanks Tonya! Oh, btw, I’ve been praying about some family teaching for our preschool families. Haven’t been sure where to go to find the speakers!!! You might join me in prayer & see if God may be wanting to use you in this area! (cause I know you don’t already have enough on your plate!)

  5. I used to permit my kids one movie a day in the evening while I prepped dinner, but then it would continue as they ate (since most kids movies are over an hour). They were too into it, so we recently told them no more movies on school days. It’s been two weeks now and they don’t seem to miss having them daily. Actually it went easier than I expected it to. So now they only watch something on the weekend, with the exception being I sometimes let my toddler watch something in the morning if she is not letting me get anything done and I’m pressed for time. We don’t have video games and I have yet to really teach my kids how to use the computer.

  6. My boys are 12 (13 next month) and 11. We are very strict about their media time (2hours/week and only on the weekends). When they complain to me about how no other family they know does this, I explain to them that God has entrusted them to me and I will have to answer to Him about what kind of mother I was to them. I would rather they dislike me for doing the “wrong” thing (in their opinion) then have God be disappointed in me. This usually stops the complaining.
    About those cable shows….they always make the kids smarter than the adults with the father being the least intelligent of everyone. So this is what boys are to expect from adulthood? These are NOT watched in our home.
    Thank you for doing these thoughtful posts!

    • Good for you!!!!! I hope to go to that rule once all mine are in school all day. That would mean a fun family movie night on the weekend.
      Yes, I agree, Father figure seems to always be portrayed as a bumbling idiot….so sad!

  7. I do agree with you to a point, but I have to ask (and I am NOT trying to be snarky here) but since Dale gave up Xbox, have you given up computer time too? I know you write the blog and that is your job, but I am sure you most likely surf to other blogger sites (hence the weekly recipe roundup). So how do you handle the kids asking why you can be on the computer when they cannot? Just wondered what a good way to handle this is as I don’t want to be the mom who says “because I’m the mom and I can do it” ! LOL!

    • LOL!!!!! But that is such a GREAT answer. 🙂
      That is a great question! I try really hard to limit my computer time during the following: their TV time, their nap time, after they are in bed.
      They are allowed to be on the computer to play something educational like Reader Rabbit during that hour of allotted media time, so I tell them they are welcome to use the computer during media time the next day.
      Otherwise, I just tell them, the computer {internet} is dangerous and not for children.

  8. It totally drives me nuts that my son’s school gave him an ipad! I’ve noticed my kids get a little crazy after more than 15 minutes. They earn little 15 minute blocks of device time. If they break the rules, don’t set the timer or try to sneak – the device is confiscated for several days. I just wanted to say that I noticed that I really feel like it’s the unbroken chunks of time with constant, small dopamine surges for each, little pretend success that leads to a very real-feeling addictive reaction in the brain. I think that’s why they act like they’re going to die if you turn it off in the middle of a level … their amygdala really thinks it might kill them. If I catch it early enough, they can still engage in other activities that aren’t so patterned and are still rewarding. It is, after all, about balance.

  9. I love this!! I limit tv time to an hour a day also! We don’t have cable either. We do Netflix, which I love because I can completely control it and they have a good selection of children’s shows. My kids are 4, 3, 1, and I have another one coming in about a month!! Most of my friends can’t believe it when I tell them we only do an hour of tv. They usually give me the excuse that they have the tv on, but their kid doesn’t really watch it. I don’t really buy that though. My husband and I have already decided no video games in our house for quite a while, because we have seen the effects of too much on my husbands younger brothers. I really like what you said about limiting your computer time to when they are at nap or during their tv time. I have gotten lazy about that and am afraid they are seeing me on the computer a little too much. Thanks for the reminder!!

  10. Pingback: Keeping Lunch Fun |

  11. I got a real strong rejection from my husband about this! He thinks I am trying to take away all his technology. But my question is how would I do this with only 1 two almost 3 year old. I am a SAHM and I don’t have the luxury of her always having another playmate! I am her playmate and when I have to cook or shower or whatever she is either right behind me or pretty much right behind me. She can play by herself well but she wonders around from her room to my office to the basement. She is two (did I mention) and I can’t afford for her to be in any other place then where I am and those of you with two yr olds know why! But I know that e tv will keep her attention just long enough for me to put our dinner on or the IPad will keep her busy just long enough for me to use the rest room. So, are there any suggestions for me?

    • You have to ask yourself, is the iPad/TV a crutch or a useful tool in your home? And how can you best utilize it without over use?
      I have an almost 3 year old and I totally get where you are coming from! I use tv time in the morning so I can get a shower and morning chores done, but maybe for you, saving it for supper prep makes more sense? The key here would be to pick a time of day and stick with it, so it becomes routine.
      As she turns 3, things will get easier! My kids used to like to play in the kitchen with cups and bowls from the Tupperware cupboard, while I prepped supper. Or, play with magnets on the fridge or one of those leap pad learning fridge magnets. 2-3 is a great age to allow kids to “help” with supper and table setting, too!
      Its good for our children to learn to self entertain, so maybe during Mommy’s Non play times, set up a play area for her, like today you can play with puzzles. Or here is your baby and stroller, why don’t you play house and I will come check on you soon. Then walk away to do your chores. It will take her a while, but eventually she will learn to play alone and use her imagination without your assistance. Setting up play time in a very visible room will also help with those mischevious moments! 😉
      As far as hubby goes, just working towards limiting tv until the childrens bedtime can be a great first step! We start bedtime at 7 around here, so it still leaves plenty of time for shows to be watched if desired. 🙂 Good luck!

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