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Life Lessons: Remote-controlled childhood -part 2

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 10 2013 04:00:00 AM CST

With Christmas fast approaching, lots of kids will find some type of a screen under the tree. But is that always a good thing?

With Christmas fast approaching, lots of kids will find some type of a screen under the tree.

But is that always a good thing?

There's no doubt that today's modern technologies can give kids a lot of great things, but what is all that screen time taking away?

Terry Thomas is an early childhood consultant in the Lehigh Valley and runs workshops for early childhood providers about the influence of media on today's kids and how it is changing the way they think and feel.

She points out that research is showing too much screen time is having a negative impact and children and how they think and develop.

"I think what we do see is more aggressive behavior in a child," says Thomas.

And that's not all. Research shows teachers report today's media culture is creating some kids who have trouble problem solving, coming up with their own ideas, and they're interacting differently with their environment than they used to.

"Conflict skills aren't what they used to be and part of that is because of what they're seeing on the screen. It's much easier to haul off and smack someone than it is to talk about it," says Andrea Barbehenn, Director of the preschool program at the first Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem.
The research shows too much screen time can influence a child's development, beliefs and ideas.

Thomas says that's "because this really does isolate in some ways. If you're taking the human element out of the it, the contact out of it that children need..what do we have in terms of the future?"

She says teachers and parents need to work together to make sure modern technology isn't having too much influence on our kids.

"Adapt your life so your using some discrimination on how children are exposed to this and know, maybe we don't understand what that impact is but know there is some," says Thomas.

Barbehenn adds, " I think the biggest advice would be to just be aware of what you're modeling for these children. These years go by so quickly and you're losing so much by putting something in front of them."

Experts say it's all about finding the right balance for children of all ages.