Early Learning – Can Movies and TV Ever Be Good For Babies and Small Children?

What an important question! As a parent of a baby or toddler, you want to help your little one reach his or her potential. We know that language and social skills are very important for success in school and in life. And what better time to start than when your child is young?

First, the bad news–the really bad news. “Excessive viewing before age three has been shown to be associated with problems of attention control, aggressive behavior and poor cognitive development. Early television viewing has exploded in recent years, and is one of the major public health issues facing American children,” according to University of Washington researcher Frederick Zimmerman.

In this article, we’ll look at the suggested links between screen time and lower vocabulary, ADHD, autism, and violent behaviour. Then we’ll look at how you might possibly use baby TV and movies to help your child learn.

LOWER LANGUAGE SKILLS A University of Washington study shows that 40% of three-month-old babies and 90% of two-year-olds “watch” TV or movies regularly. Researchers found that parents allowed their babies and toddlers to watch educational TV, baby videos/DVDs, other children’s programs and adult programs.

What can we learn from this study?

* “Most parents seek what’s best for their child, and we discovered that many parents believe that they are providing educational and brain development opportunities by exposing their babies to 10 to 20 hours of viewing per week,” says researcher Andrew Meltzoff, a developmental psychologist.

* According to Frederick Zimmerman, lead author of the study, that’s a bad thing. “Exposure to TV takes time away from more developmentally appropriate activities such as a parent or adult caregiver and an infant engaging in free play with dolls, blocks or cars… ” he says.

* Infants age 8 to 16 months who viewed baby programs knew fewer words than those who did not view them.

“The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew,” says Dr. Dimitri Christakis. “These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos.”

* Meltzoff says that parents “instinctively adjust their speech, eye gaze and social signals to support language acquisition”–obviously something no machine can do!

* Surprisingly, it didn’t make any difference whether the parent watched with the infant or not!

Why did these babies learn more slowly? Dr. Vic Strasburger, pediatrics professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, says “Babies require face-to-face interaction to learn. They don’t get that interaction from watching TV or videos. In fact, the watching probably interferes with the crucial wiring being laid down in their brains during early development.”

ADHD Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is characterized by problems with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. A link between ADHD and early TV viewing has been noted by Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH et al.

“In contrast to the pace with which real life unfolds and is experienced by young children, television can portray rapidly changing images, scenery, and events. It can be overstimulating yet extremely interesting, ” say the researchers. “We found that early exposure to television was associated with subsequent attentional problems.”

The researchers examined data for 1278 children at the age of one year and 1345 children at age three. They found that an extra hour of daily television watching at these ages translated into a ten percent higher probability that the child would exhibit ADHD behaviours by the age of seven.

AUTISM Autism is characterized by poor or no language skills, poor social skills, unusual repetitive behaviours and obsessive interests. A University of Cornell study found that higher rates of autism appeared to be linked to higher rates of screen time.

The researchers hypothesize that “a small segment of the population is vulnerable to developing autism because of their underlying biology and that either too much or certain types of early childhood television watching serves as a trigger for the condition.”

In his commentary on this study in Slate magazine, Gregg Easterbrook notes that autistic children have abnormal activity in the visual-processing areas of their brains. As these areas are developing rapidly during the first three years of a child’s life, he wonders whether “excessive viewing of brightly colored two-dimensional screen images” can cause problems. I find this comment highly interesting, as it would apply to the full spectrum from “quality children’s programming” to adult material.

VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR The National Association for the Education of Young Children identified the following areas of concern about children watching violence on TV: * Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. * They may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others. * They may become more fearful of the world around them.

The American Psychological Association reports on several studies in which some children watched a violent program and others watched a nonviolent one. Those in the first group were slower to intervene, either directly or by calling for help, when they saw younger children fighting or breaking toys after the program.

Now that we know the bad news…

Is it possible to use movies at all? I think it is. I believe the key is to USE the program, not just WATCH it. Most people know that it’s very good to read to babies, but no one would set a book before a baby and walk away, thinking it will do her any good at all!

Rock your baby or tap the rhythm to classical music or children’s songs.

Be very, very choosy about what your young child watches–and watch with him. Does the program show kindness, helpfulness, generosity… whatever values you wish your little one to learn?

When she is old enough to relate to the images of people, animals and toys, talk to her about what she’s seeing. “Look at the puppy. He’s playing with the kitten. They’re friends. Mommy is your friend.” “The baby birds are hungry. They’re calling for their mommy. She’s going to come back with some food.” “Oh no! The baby lamb is lost. I wonder if the shepherd will find him.”

Make screen time a special–and highly limited–time that the two of you share. Treat a baby or young children’s movie the way you treat a book–as another tool to give you topics for interaction with your little one.

From Garbage to Riches

There are many stories we can hear about rags to riches but stories of garbage to riches are very few. While in Payatas, main dumpsite in Manila, Philippines it is true. Filipino waste pickers are turning trash into high fashion income after joining forces with a designer to produce market or grocery bags and rugs from scraps of cloth collected at garbage landfills. A community of women in Payatas, Manila’s main garbage dumpsite for years, were inspired by a local fashion designer and partnered with him in making bags, clutches, yoga mat case, and mat rugs in mass production. Then the history unfolds for the merging, and it became a successful one. The community of women garbage pickers became successful entrepreneurs, and they formed an enterprise called Rags2Riches, a well-known organization in Payatas area, Philippines.

Years ago, the message of environment to people to live a healthier and wealthier life by going green is not appealing but now that same message has been the talk of the town and more and more people regardless of age and ethnicity knew how important it is to live a healthier life by choosing and going green for life. The story of people in Payatas who literally picks garbage, recycle and upcycle them with the help of a local fashion designer now made their way to the business world and became successful entrepreneurs. This successful story started with a single idea of recycling garbage in a dumpsite, which for years have been their homes.

As a responsible citizen who has the capacity to think for ways to help save the environment, and turn an idea into action, here’s what you can do for the environment:

  1. Know and calculate you carbon footprint. I don’t own a car so I expect that my carbon footprint is very low. I recycle if I can, and I buy green products if available in my local market.
  2. Know and find your “Latte Factor”. Train yourself not to buy coffee in a disposable cup or water in a plastic bottle. You can save few bucks by doing so, and your small act is helping to save the planet.
  3. If you own a car, make sure your car get its proper maintenance. When it comes to getting a new car, miles per gallon matters. Consider walking for short distance travel instead of car trips.
  4. Invest green. Socially responsible investing will be the next big thing to happen. The “green wave” now comes on the spotlight offering mutual funds to companies who are focused on the environment.

More people are striving so hard to fulfill their dreams, and they have the vision and mission to guide and inspire them not to give up just like any company who does business but at the same time doing its social and environmental responsibilities. More and more companies are aware of this management responsibility, but few are actually doing it. Those few companies are making use of recycled products as raw materials in manufacturing quality made eco-conscious fashionista handmade bags, purses, wristlets, and bag accessories. All these environmentally-friendly products came from recycled waste materials like magazine, candy wrappers, recycled juice pouch, rice sacks, decommissioned tires, and other recycled waste materials available in our surroundings. Made of quality-made candy wrappers, magazines and recycled juice pouch by local artisans in Mexico, Indonesia and in the Philippines, each handmade bags and accessories being sold online by companies whose mission is to bring eco-friendly handbags and accessories to online customers are actually helping skilled local artisans to earn a living too, for their families in Mexico, Indonesia, and Philippines.

From garbage to riches is achievable because many people have proved it already. Let us hope that someday the bad situation of this world where we live will change dramatically. May God help us become examples to those who haven’t yet come to the realization that we need to unite and cause a positive change to save our dear planet Earth.

Men and Their Money: The Three-Date Rule

Most of what I know about money, I learned from men. I learned how they count it, how they spend it and what they spend it on. They use money to keep score, define their self-worth and to acquire women. I learned about the three-date rule after a couple of dates with one man who was an out-of-town business man.

I was surprised to learn about the three-date rule. I had married young and had not learned of this particular dating etiquette. When I was young, I considered myself rather informed, as I had read Cosmopolitan magazine as a teenage girl and, therefore, considered myself a contemporary woman. It seems I was wrong, at least according to some men.

I learned of my ignorance after dating this out-of-town business man for a couple of months. About a week after our third date, he called me at home one night with a definite purpose on his mind. After the usual introductory comments, he blatantly told me that if I did not “put out,” he was going to quit taking me out. He told me that he had already spent too much money on me and was not going to spend another cent until we had sex.

This particular late-night telephone conversation occurred after he had shared with me that he was married, but getting divorced.

Then, on our second date, he had confessed that he also had a mistress back home in Pennsylvania. He was conflicted about which woman to have sex with when he returned for the holidays. It seems I was causing him additional concern because he was relocating from Pennsylvania to Denver and, therefore, wanted to have sex with me before he returned home to finalize his divorce and break-up with his mistress. He explained that he could not make any further decisions about his life until he discovered whether he liked having sex with me. This seemed to be the deciding factor. He also asked questions about my sexual preferences in an attempt to determine whether we were sexually compatible and, therefore, worth any more of his time or money.

As a recently divorced woman, who had only recently entered the dating scene, I was beginning to get a little more practiced at conflict negotiations and chose to let him talk before answering his questions. When he finally finished telling me how things were going to be before he spent any more money on me, I almost laughed. I almost laughed, but held my tongue until it was my turn to speak.

After he finished explaining his major complaint with me, I asked him how much money he had spent on me and what exactly did he expect in return. I informed him that we had not negotiated price prior to my acceptance of a dinner invitation and, therefore, he would have been wiser to clarify his assumptions before making random invitations to strange women. I then recited the number of times we had gone to dinner, how much the total tab was and, to be specific, how much of the tab was actually spent on my meal and not only his drinks. After mentally tallying the costs, not including tax or tips, I calculated that he had spent approximately $60 dollars on me over the course of two months and three dinner dates. Remember, of course, he always got to choose the restaurant and each of these three times, we went to the same steak house. I may have even neglected to include fuel costs since I drove from Colorado Springs to Denver in order to meet him closer to his corporate condo. I also asked what the current rate is for an exclusive call-girl because, according to my estimates, any high-class hooker would at least get dinner and cash.

The mention of cash must have caught his attention because he realized that he had insulted me and began to apologize. It was too late. Therefore, to resolve his confusion, I suggested that he return home, have sex with his wife, have sex with his mistress and, maybe then, he would feel compensated for the money he had spent on me. Besides, I added, the wife gets a house and three kids, the mistress gets a free car and some cheap jewelry and all I got was a free steak and some lousy conversation. I further advised that he get his sex where he spends his money. I think this is when I hung-up the phone.

The three-date rule is non-compulsory.