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Life Lessons: Remote-controlled childhood

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 09 2013 04:00:00 AM CST

Most of today's children grow up not far from a screen of some kind.

Most of today's children grow up not far from a screen of some kind.

What impact does all this screen time have on young children?

Many experts believe screen time is a major influence on the way kids think, play, even how they develop their ideas about sex and violence.

Early childhood educators say they're seeing a different kid in the classroom today than 15 years ago.

Andrea Barbehenn is director of the preschool at First Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem.

She says, "I think one of the biggest changes is that they are so used to being entertained by TV or iPads or DVD players that they don't know how to entertain themselves anymore. They don't know how to play."

Barbehenn has seen a lot of children in her 28 years in the field. So has Early Childhood Consultant Terry Thomas.

Thomas points to research conducted by Diane E. Levin in her book, "Beyond Remote Controlled Childhood, Teaching Young Children in the Media Age."

Thomas has been running workshops for early childhood providers about the impact of the so called "remote controlled childhood" that is influencing many of today's kids.

"My concern would be that parents become more knowledgeable because it does change children's behavior," says Thomas.

Research is showing that today's media culture is resulting in even younger children doing what older children used to do, including:

* Girls being too sexy
* Boys being too rough
* Premature adolescent rebellion
* Kids thinking buying makes you happy

Experts say adults aren't as influenced by media as children are.

"Children don't have these life experiences and they certainly don't have the behavior to control their impulses so they go with what they see and if they're getting a steady diet of this, you're going to see changes in behavior," Thomas explains.

Pediatricians recommend you limit screen time for your kids and talk to them about what they see.