Studies have proven, repeatedly, that it is more healthy for a child's development to have physical play, rather than being physically sedentary and frequently exposed to screens.
Dr Chris Baker's book, REAL, is a treasure of resources for living a healthy lifestyle and raising productive children.
Screen use by young children is unhealthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued warnings about this danger.
The dramatic increase in Autism Spectrum Disorders has been associated with screen use. Dream It! Leaving Autism Behind is an inspiring story of one young man's growth and development, leaving autism behind.
Screen time creates brain damage in children. as shown by at least 11 recent studies.
One school activity that has been proven to be beneficial for developing brains is cursive writing.
Despite the dangers posed by the use of screen by young children, many school classrooms incorporate their use.
“Children should be seen and not heard."
Online, there are lots of articles, studies and blogs about how our children are faring today. One such article, by blogger Vicky Prooday is titled, “Why are our children so bored at school, cannot wait, get easily frustrated and have no real friends?”
Others discuss the huge increase in the diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorders, learning disabilities and other childhood mental health areas.
Why do many children begin school not emotionally able to cope with the school environment?
Why do so many children fare poorly on testing and educational measures?
Why is there such a huge increase in ADD/ADHD, with many children who cannot sit and learn, let alone cope?
Why does such a huge number of children exhibit signs of addiction to screens and completely fall apart when the screen is taken away?
Why do so many children not have real friends?
Why are we in pediatric dentistry finding that children are emotionally incapable of coping with the dental care environment? And why does a huge percentage of children receive routine dental care provided while sedated or under GA (general anesthesia)?
Our grandparents did not have these problems.
What has changed?
The answer lies in our modern culture, our current beliefs as parents and in our resultant inability to give our children what they need to develop — their abilities to learn, cope, to have and enjoy true friends and life — real life.
The changes in our modern culture include:
Cultural Change #1: Omnipresent screens, including TV, movies, iPads, computers, electronic games and phones, which severely harm our children in two ways:
Boredom due to a damaged nervous system, and addiction, both disconnect the child from the ability to learn, to enjoy other types of stimulation like playing outside, and to emotionally attach to their family and to real friends.
Cultural Change #2: Parents have come to believe it is good for the child to “be in charge”, for the child’s needs to be met as immediately and completely as possible. Quite frankly, we have become servants to our children and their desires.
I remember being shocked a few years ago when I had explained the child’s abscessed tooth and need for extraction of an infection that was dangerously close to his brain and encephalitis. The mom asked the child, “Do you want to get your tooth taken out today?”
That was shocking. It was not shocking to hear the child’s answer. What do you think most all children who cannot begin to understand infection, encephalitis, meningitis or dental treatment would say?
Of course, the child answered, “No.”
And once again, I was shocked to hear mom say to me, “Dr. Chris, he said ‘no’ for today.”
As our children do not learn to cope with difficult things or things they do not wish (dental treatment), they do not learn that they CAN cope.
Millions of children in modern society are much less equipped than previous generations to deal with the simplest frustrations. How will they cope with the real world someday in their jobs. Will they be able to hold a job?
How will our children be able to learn to enjoy eating nutritious foods and to exercise and stay healthy if they have learned they “don’t have to do what they don’t like”?
I had a parent explain to me that neither she, nor her child ate anything except “white foods.” When I looked quizzically at her, she explained that they ate breads, pasta, crackers, cakes, and popcorn. Oh - and their ‘treats’ (candy and sweets) could be other colors.
The media and modern culture teaches modern parents to think if their children appear to be content, they have succeeded.
Quite the opposite!. Our beliefs are killing the chances of our children being happy.
I have wondered out loud more than once, “Who will our children marry, if there are so few capable, healthy young adults?”
And, if reincarnation is a reality, then what sort of world will we come back to?
You see, no matter how charming and cute children are, they must learn not to expect others to give them attention to “build them up.” The child should be doing that for the people around them, in being sweet, gracious, polite and helpful.They will be the happier adult, future parent, spouse and friend.
My grandmother used to say, “Children should be seen and not heard.”
I thought that was a mean thing to say. Years later, she explained to me, when I had my own child, that she felt a child could be emotionally damaged by receiving too much attention and should not enter into the conversation until spoken to.
Now, I understand what she really meant. It’s for their well-being. And for our future.
After all, the brain and its function are more and more difficult to change as one gets older. Let us work on fixing what we can and doing well for our children. One might think that raising children is not “rocket science.” Well, in our modern culture — maybe it is!
Our children need us to help them grow and develop without the disabilities of impulsivity, attention-neediness, inability to focus and pay attention, inability to learn well, and inability to truly connect with others.
Dr Chris Baker
Dr. Chris Baker is Past President of the American Orthodontic Society, a pediatric dentist and teacher of orthodontics, An author, dental practice consultant, mentor, and a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools, Dr Chris practices and blogs in beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE, and glorious Texas, USA.
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© 2019 Dr Chris Baker