Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Mind/Body Problem: Why we should all be advocating for limits on children’s screen time

I’m troubled by an apparent split over children’s screen time between the guardians of children’s health and the guardians of their education. The public health community, from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, is intensifying efforts to set limits on the amount of time young children spend with screen technology—one to two hours per day for older children and no screen time for babies and toddlers.

Meanwhile, the National Association for the Education of Young Children—the nation’s premier professional organization for early childhood educators—recently released a draft of its statement on children and technology which advocates incorporating screens into all early childhood programs and pointedly does not advocate for limits on screen time. As it stands, NAEYC’s position on children and technology actually undermines the growing public health movement to reduce children’s screen time.

What’s sad for me is that I associate NAEYC with the important mid-twentieth century movement toward whole child development—which highlighted the importance of recognizing children not just as minds or bodies, but as complex beings with intertwining physical, emotional, social, psychological, and spiritual needs. There’s a dearth of credible evidence that introducing babies, toddlers, or even preschoolers to computers, phone apps, and video games is beneficial to their long-term learning and academic success. And the convergence of ubiquitous, miniaturized screen technology and unregulated commercialism is wreaking havoc with children’s hands on creative play—which we know is essential to healthy brain development. But even if screens were proven to be excellent learning tools for young children (and I repeat, they’re not), given the links between screen time and childhood obesity, it would still be important for educators to take a stand with the American Academy of Pediatrics, The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity and others to urge early childhood professionals to limit screens in their classrooms and work with parents to limit screens at home.

To read NAEYC’s draft statement on children and technology please click here.
To read the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s response to the statement on children and technology, please click here.
To send a message to NAEYC sharing your concerns about children and technology, please click here.


  1. There's a problem with the link to the draft statement.

  2. The should links should be working now.

  3. The mind-body problem exists because we naturally want to include the mental life of conscious organisms in a comprehensive scientific understanding of the world. On the one hand it seems obvious that everything that happens in the mind depends on, or is, something that happens in the brain.

  4. I can't believe NAEYC's position on computers in early childhood settings. It seems to go against what I always thought they stood for - the best interests of children. This issues takes me back to a situation that took place when I was a preschool teacher a few years back. One of the preschool teachers on my team of 4 in the school proposed that idea of getting a few computers for the preschool. She had researched based articles from her college courses that supported the idea of computers in preschools. I had to borrow the article to read it because I couldn't believe what she was telling me. Her big push was that computer games are educational, help students learn letters and numbers, and help students learn how to work in a group to take turns. My response - you can address all those areas by a small group game of Memory or working on a puzzle together. Do you really need a computer to learn how to take turns! I'm sure many kids use their computers at home, why do they need to use them at school. Parents are paying money so their children can go to preschool and learn through play and social interactions with other children and teacher. Sad to say, the preschool did get a few computers. My son is of preschool age now. Not sure if I want to send him there now.

  5. I am saddened that this organization is going after NAEYC's technology statement. Most of what Susan Linn is criticizing doesn't even exist in the statement. I know this organization does not like false promises, ads, and exxagerations made by companies. But Susan Linn has exxagerated and outright lied about the technology statement to others to garner support. I used to support this organization but after seeing the deception of it, I will no longer do so.

    I think this organization is taking the wrong stance towards technology. I see on screen free week you advocate the use of the radio. Sorry, that's technology. Most of the tools you suggest are different types of technology. The world children will live in will consist of different types of technologies. We are doing them a disservice by making all technology to be evil.

    By the way - this is a blog - web 2.0 technology that can only be accessed on a screen???????? How's that for hypocrisy?

  6. ALSO - I read the ENTIRE NAEYC statement many times. NOWHERE on the document does it read that technology is mandated???????? NOWHERE! Please keep your criticisms at least legitimate.

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