13 posts categorized "Television" Feed

Press Release: Screen Free Week is May 5-11

SFW-logo-with-2014-dateScreen-Free Week is May 5 – 11, 2014! 

Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to spend 7 days unplugged.

BOSTON -- April 28 -- Children are spending way too much time with screens -- and it’s not good for them.

  • School-age children spend more time with screen media -- television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices -- than in any other activity but sleeping.
  • Screen media use is at an all-time high among preschoolers -- according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 32 hours a week watching just television.
  • A recent survey found that the amount of time children ages 0-8 spend using mobile devices tripled in two years.
  • Screen time is habit forming and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits, and attention problems.
  • 64% of children ages 12 to 24 months watch TV and videos for an average of just over two hours a day -- even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends discouraging screen time for children under two.

For these reasons and more, so many leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’s Screen-Free Week (May 5 – 11, 2014), the annual celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn on life by turning off screens for entertainment. Endorsers include the National Head Start Association, the National WIC Association, KaBOOM!, the US Play Coalition, the Association of Children’s Museums, the National Black Child Development Institute, and the American Public Health Association.

“Such wide-ranging support for Screen-Free Week reflects the growing national consensus that kids spend too much time with television, video games, apps, and computers,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the official home of Screen-Free Week. “More screen time means less time for hands-on play, reading, exploring nature, and dreaming -- activities crucial to a healthy, happy childhood."

Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff). Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scoutmasters, and clergy organize Screen-Free Weeks in their communities. Here are just a few of the upcoming festivities:

  • The Irving (TX) Public Library is hosting events all week long including sidewalk chalk art, a bubble bonanza, a science experiment, and opportunities to create books and build with construction materials.
  • In NYC, The Uni Project will take up residency all week on a wide stretch of sidewalk in the Lower East Side with their pop-up, open-air reading rooms.
  • The Wooden Horse toy store in Los Gatos, CA has a week of activities planned, starting with a pajama party and story time and ending with a play day that will be filled with arts & crafts, games, and races. A game night and nature-themed activities will also be offered during the week.
  • Spring Garden Recreation in York, PA will be joining with local businesses and Recreation departments to offer an activity for each day of the week free of charge. They’re starting the week off with a kids’ biathlon.
  • In Cambridge, MA families will celebrate Screen-Free (Screen-Wise) Week with cooking from the garden, building and playing with cardboard tubes, a kids’ walk and picnic at Fresh Pond, exploring materials with magical properties, and sketching plants and trees. They’ll end the week with a Mother’s Day bike ride.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (www.commercialfreechildhood.org) is a national coalition that counters the harmful effects of marketing to children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).


See also my post about my family's experience with Screen Free Week last year. I'm going to try for "Less Screen Week" this year (see a post by Marge Loch-Wouters on this topic), but I think that's all I'll be able to manage right now. 

WordGirl's Word of the Month for January: Resolution

WordGirlResolutionIt's not exactly original, but WordGirl's Word of the Month for January is certainly fitting. RESOLUTION: A promise we make with ourselves.

I'm not all that big on resolutions, per se. But I have set three goals for myself (and my daughter) for this year:

  1. Sleep more/better
  2. Read more
  3. Exercise more

I'm actually finding this helpful. When I have a choice in my activities (when the things that I HAVE to do are under control), I just think: "what will help me with my three goals?". And then I choose accordingly. Resolutions can help people to prioritize. 

What are your resolutions, reading or otherwise?

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Merry Grinch-mas!

My husband and I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original Boris Karloff animated version) with our three year old daughter last week. She was utterly enchanted. Of course I made sure to tell her that the story was originally from a book by Dr. Seuss. But for some reason, we didn't have a copy of the book. I made a mental note to rectify the situation, but then it slipped through the cracks.

Imagine my pleasure, then, when a copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the book, showed up on my doorstep yesterday, sent by the folks at Random House. As soon as my daughter saw it, she insisted that I put aside my work to read it to her (despite a babysitter also being present). I was, naturally, unable to resist.

This was my first read-aloud of the book ... perhaps ever. But the lines trip off the tongue, familiar after more years than I care to admit of watching the TV/video/DVD version. And in truth, they would trip off the tongue anyway, because How the Grinch Stole Christmas is Dr. Seuss at his best. The movie isn't 100% true to book, but close enough. Sitting, reading this book to my daughter for the first time is destined to be one of my favorite memories from the 2013 holiday season. 

I can't imagine that Random House is looking for reviews of a 56 year old classic. But they are trying to spread the word about a new campaign to "extend the Grinch's heartwarming message into an annual tradition of good-deed-doing and giving back to the community with 25 Days of Grinch-mas." Here's a bit from the website:

"Grinch-mas is a new holiday tradition inspired by Dr. Seuss’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! that encourages readers to “grow your heart three sizes” through the celebration of family reading, giving from the heart and community spirit. National Grinch Day, on December 1, will kick start the 25 Days of Grinch-mas. During this time, bookstores and local retailers all over the country will be hosting Grinch-mas events that will incorporate holiday story times for families and opportunities for kids to win special prizes for giving back to their communities by doing good deeds throughout the month of December."

The website features kid-accessible Daily Good Deed suggestions, like: "Make someone laugh." There are also printables and activities and the like, If you have kids who are fans of the book or the movie, it certainly couldn't hurt to use 25 Days of Grinch-mas as a springboard for fun and the spreading of good cheer. 

I think it's safe to say that I'll be reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas quite a lot in the coming days. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

Screen Free Week Wrap-Up

SfwI posted last Wednesday about our early progress with Screen Free Week (which was April 29th through May 5th). Baby Bookworm ended up having a quite successful Screen Free Six Days.This doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Screen Free Week, but it was the best we could do. She woke up with a cold yesterday and was miserable and in need of the comfort of Mary Poppins (plus I was in need of the comfort of a shower and time to fold the laundry). But I did still distract her from watching television by taking her on a Barnes and Noble run yesterday. So all was not lost.   

In the end she had a week without any iPad or iPhone use, not even looking at pictures. And she had six days with no television (at least at home - not sure if she saw any when she was at her friend's house). As I mentioned last week, this resulted in:

  • More time for creative play (e.g. pretending to be on airplane, or camping).
  • More books read.
  • More direct interaction with my husband and myself. 

These are all good things. And the whining over not having the iPad or being able to watch TV definitely declined over the week (though the requests did not cease completely). I found that I was able to use my iPhone in front of her - she seemed to accept that as a different thing, and didn't ask for it. Of course this was a bit hypocritical on my part, but I was doing my best.

I'm sure that we'll try Screen Free Week again next year. And I'm considering only allowing television on weekends going forward (we do all love to watch movies together). How about all of you? Did anyone else attempt Screen Free Week? What were your outcomes? 

This post © 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

How We're Doing with Screen Free Week

SfwAs I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Screen Free Week is being observed this week, April 29th - May 5th. Random House has been urging families to Unplug and Read. As you might infer by the fact that I'm blogging right now, I'm not going screen free myself. However, I am attempting to keep my 3 year old daughter, Baby Bookworm, free of screens. Because she never uses screens during the day anyway, this mainly consists of three things:

  1. Not letting her use the iPad in the morning after breakfast (something that I often allow, so that I can read the paper, shower, etc.).
  2. Not letting her watch television in the evening (we sometimes watch a movie or television episode after dinner - she's currently in the middle of Season 1 of Full House). 
  3. Not using my iPhone when she is around (because this makes her want to play with it). 

So how are we doing on these three things?

  1. Monday morning she cried for a few minutes over not using the iPad. But then we did some gymnastics, pretended we were taking an airplane to Los Angeles, and read two books. Tuesday morning she didn't even ask for the iPad, wanting instead to play a game in which I was the baby, and she was the daddy. I convinced her that "the baby" wanted to read books, and she went and dug out some of her early baby books for us to read together. Wednesday morning, again, no request for the iPad. We did puzzles, read several books, and packed up for a pretend trip to the beach. 
  2. BooksReadSFWMonday night she protested quite loudly about wanting to watch "a movie" (she calls everything on the TV a movie). But only for a couple of minutes. Then we went into the playroom and played Little People, and she went on a pretend camping trip with my husband. Tuesday night she asked a couple of times for television, but was even more easily deflected by puzzles and pretend camping. We also read a lot more books before bed than usual, because we got started earlier (see stack to the right).  
  3. Not looking at my iPhone screen when she's around has been the hardest one for me. Baseball scores! Facebook! Checking my email! But I don't think that she has even noticed. This one is going to be a lot harder on the weekend, when I'm with her all day. 

We're only a couple of days in, but already, I'm noticing a few things.

  • It doesn't take very much time to make or break habits when you're dealing with a three year old. I was surprised that on the second day she didn't even ask for the iPad. It's possible that we'll get the to end of the week, and she'll completely stop asking for the iPad at all. 
  • When she's not watching TV or using the iPad, she is engaging in more creative play. We did at one point pretend to be watching television, I must admit, but she was perfectly happy to pretend, and didn't ask for the real thing. While I do think that she learns some things on the iPad (we have apps that are helping her with letter recognition, for example), I have to think that active pretend play is more beneficial at this age. We are also reading more books, which is certainly a good thing. 
  • I think that the reason she is ok with giving up the screens (which she loves) is that she gets more of mommy and daddy's time and attention. If I was trying to send her off to play by herself in the mornings, I don't think that this whole thing would be very successful.

There's no question that this is a sacrifice in terms of my time. I feel like I'm starting off every day behind, because I get so little time to myself in the mornings. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to continue after this week is over. But there's also no question in my mind that this Screen Free Week is having good outcomes for my daughter.

It's not too late to jump in to Screen Free Week, if any of this sounds interesting to you. My personal view is that it's a good excuse to look at how much time your kids are spending on screens, and see what happens if you scale that back a little bit. I'll report back again after the end of the week. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Unplug and Read! Screen Free Week is April 29 - May 5

SFW-logo-with-2013-dateRandom House Children's Books is strongly promoting this year's Screen Free Week, April 29th - May 5th. They are urging kids and parents everywhere to Unplug and Read. Today they published this video, in which four well-known author-illustrators (Bob Staake, Chris Raschka, Dan Yaccarino, and Tad Hills) call for kids to unplug, and spend their time doing other, more active things. It's well worth a look. 

There are lots of great reasons to get kids to unplug, though of course it's hard to do. More time to read, more time to play, more active play, more use of the imagination.... The list goes on.

Here are a few things I've noticed about screen time and my three year old:

  • The more time she gets, the more time she wants. This goes for movies and iPad time, her primary sources of screen time. Screen time is highly addictive.
  • When she's absorbed in the iPad, she is oblivious to things going on around her. 
  • When she watches movies in the evening, she doesn't sleep as well. She tends to wake up during the night, and wake us up, because she's afraid of something. Presumably, she is having bad dreams.
  • When we watch television in the evening, we end up with less time for reading books, mostly because my husband and I get tired, and can't stay awake to read as many as our daughter would like.

This is not to say that we don't derive any benefit from this screen time. Most of the apps that she uses on the iPad are educational in some way. She does puzzles, she learns some vocabulary, she does some concentration-type practice, etc. And when we watch movies as a family, we build a common frame of reference. My husband and I can share movies that we love with her. We now sing songs from The Sound of Music most nights before she goes to sleep. And of course, screen time sometimes provides a break for me, time to read the paper or take a shower in the morning. But I try to keep it to minimum, because of the above behaviors that I've noticed.

So what I plan to try to do during Screen-Free Week is replace my daughter's several mornings per week iPad time with reading together, even if it means I have to find time to shower and finish the paper later in the day. I'll also see what I can do about not watching any television in the evenings. (We don't watch much, but as I said, she gets a bit addicted, and always asks. She doesn't get any screen time during the day as it is.) I'll be interested to see how that affects her sleep. I'll report back.

How about you? What are your plans for Screen-Free Week?

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Tips for Growing Bookworms: #8 Be Selective in Television Watching: A Booklights Reissue

This post was originally published at Booklights on February 8, 2010, about restricting TV watching for young bookworms.

This tip is one that I've taken to heart as I grow my own bookworm, and one that requires some degree of sacrifice. My husband and I have decided not to let our daughter watch any television until she's two years old. It's not easy. Baby Bookworm is very curious about the TV, so if she's around, we pretty much always have to have the TV off. She occasionally catches sight of a TV when we're at a friend's house or a restaurant, but that's about it.

This has meant that I don't get to watch very many baseball games (I even cancelled my beloved MLB ExtraInnings package), and that my husband and I don't get to watch TV shows together until she's in bed (by which time I'm usually ready for bed, too). Football season is going to be a real challenge. But when I see my daughter at 14 months picking up books on her own and turning the pages, and pointing to pictures in books so that I'll tell her what they are, I do think that it's worth it. (But I also understand why not every family does this -- it's definitely a challenge.)

Tips for Growing Bookworms: #8 Be Selective in Television Watching

This is Part 8 of a continuing series on encouraging young readers. These ideas were originally captured in a post that I did on my blog in 2007, 10 Tips for Growing Bookworms. Here at Booklights I'll be expanding upon and updating each idea, and adding links for more information.

Tip #8: Be selective in television watching, and limit total time spent. There has been various studies that suggest that children under the age of two should not be allowed to watch any television. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, recommends that television viewing for children under the age of two should be avoided. The PBS Parents website has an excellent FAQ on TV and kids under age 3), compiled by children's media expert Shelley Pasnik. It includes links to the full AAP policy statement on young children and television.

For older kids, as reported in an article by Annie M. Moss in the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy (Vol. 8, No. 1, 67-102, 2008), an examination of various studies concluded that "(1) moderate amounts of television viewing were found to be beneficial for reading; (2) the content of programs viewed by children matters; (3) programs that aim to promote literacy in young children have been found to positively impact specific early literacy skills; and finally, (4) there are limitations to the existing literature".

The message that I take from this, and other reading that I've done, is that it's a good idea a) to limit the amount of time that kids spend watching television, and b) to be selective about what your kids (especially younger kids) watch.

Limiting Television Time:
Here's one simple fact, in the context of growing bookworms: time spent watching TV is time NOT spent reading books. In general, allowing hours and hours of television watching per day is not going to help you to raise readers. When kids watch stories on TV, everything is spelled out for them. When they read stories in books, they use their imaginations more. They picture the characters. They can imagine that the characters look like them. They become accustomed to filling in some of the details in their own minds. They see the words printed on the page, and learn what they mean.

I also think that books are better in general than television shows in terms of helping kids to expand their vocabularies. Kids who are read to from birth will hear many more different words over the course of their preschool days than kids who spend most of their free time in front of the TV. Especially if those television shows primarily use words like "bam".

WG-LOGO.gifUsing Television Wisely:
Of course television is quite enticing for kids. If you're going to allow your preschoolers to watch television, there are a couple of things that you can do to make TV work in favor of, instead of against, literacy skills. The first is obvious. Pick television shows that are educational and help your child's development, instead of violent or mindless cartoons. There are a number of educational shows that focus on vocabulary, but also strive to make reading fun. I've heard particularly good things about WordGirl and Super WHY!, for example.

rah-cov06.jpgAnother tip is one I learned from Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook (a book that every new parent should have a chance to read). Jim suggests that if you are going to have the television on, you can turn it into a "mechanical reading tutor" by the simple act of turning on the closed captioning. He cites examples of children in Finland who don't start school until age 7, watch a lot of television, and yet have high reading levels, explaining that they typically watch quite a bit of non-Finnish television, and make heavy use of closed captioning. It's like an interactive reading tutor, with the televised characters acting out the words. Closed captioning provides a steady stream of words across the bottom of screen, words that your child will notice and, eventually, decode.

Jim concludes: "It stands to reason that reasonable doses of captioned television can do no harm and most likely help greatly with reading. There is enough research to indicate significant gains in comprehension and vocabulary development (especially among bilingual students) when receiving instruction with educational television that is captioned." You can read more details here.

If you want your kids to love books, you have to give them time to love books. And that means quiet time, when the television isn't blaring in the background. Time to immerse themselves in other worlds, worlds that will build their imaginations. Time to just read.

But variety is important, too. If your kids are going to spend time watching television, the best ways that I know of to make TV work in favor of literacy are to select television shows carefully, and to turn on the closed captioning.

How have you balanced television and books in your house, in your quest to grow bookworms?

This post was originally published at Booklights on February 8, 2010. Since Booklights has ended, I am republishing selected posts here, at Jen Robinson's Book Page, with permission from PBS Parents. Booklights was funded by the PBS Kids Raising Readers initiative. All rights reserved.

Cookie Monster!

Just popping in to say that while I enjoyed yesterday's Big Bird logo on Google, I LOVE today's Cookie Monster logo. Is that not the best thing ever?

Happy 40th Birthday Sesame Street. My childhood wouldn't have been the same without you.

And now, I have this crazy urge to leave the rest of my email unanswered, and go make cookies...

PBS Engage Features Susan Meddaugh

Logo_for_web_outreach_2I received this announcement from Amy R. Baroch at PBS, and thought that some of you would be interested:

"PBS Engage is featuring children’s book author, Susan Meddaugh as part of the ongoing PBS Engage series called "Five Good Questions." Susan is the renowned author and illustrator of Martha Speaks, the book that inspired the new PBS Kids show.

The series features a PBS celebrity or insider and asks visitors to send in questions to be answered the following week. The blog series has been very successful and we are thrilled to have Susan Meddaugh as our feature this week.

Please visit the link and post your comments and questions here. You can also visit PBS Engage at www.pbs.org/engage."

PBS Engage looks like a very cool site, well worth checking out.

Jericho Returns Tonight

Quick off-topic post to let you all know that the fabulous post-apocalyptic television drama Jericho returns with the first of seven new episodes tonight (on CBS at 10:00 pm). That these episodes are airing at all is a success story for the show's fans, who vehemently protested the show's cancellation after last season, and earned it a reprieve. In light of the strike-driven dearth of new television material these days, I think that Jericho has an excellent chance to build a strong audience, and return next year. If you enjoy plot-twisting drama, with strong, appealing characters, Jericho is well worth checking out. You can watch all of the episodes from last season online now. And if you're a fan of post-apocalyptic storylines, as I am, then you've probably been watching all along. Don't miss the new season!