A child’s whole development, brain development included, is best supported when young kids have full-on opportunities to use their whole bodies and senses for activity, play, and social interaction.
Preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day to enhance growth and development.Adult caregivers of preschool-aged children should encourage active play that includes a variety of activity types.
Unfortunately, there is a dearth of speciﬁc research about how media use affects brain development. But what we do know is that the experiences a child has shape brain development. As the child moves, interacts, and uses her senses, neural activity in the brain is stimulated. One neuroscientist wrote, “You hold him on your lap and talk … and neurons from his ears start hard-wiring connections to the auditory cortex. And you thought you were just playing with your kid.”A child’s whole development, brain development included, is best supported when young kids have full-on opportunities to use their whole bodies and senses for activity, play, and social interaction.
When a child looks at a screen, not only is she more passive, but also her attention shifts away from her own initiative. ... Presenting a child with images on a 2-D screen short changes a child by giving her far too little to go on, too little information on which to build concepts needed in order to build the foundation for later learning.
Children don’t learn optimally when we try to put information into their heads directly. Most of us probably remember having to learn some things by rote when we were in school. And most of us probably know that we forgot what we learned quite quickly. For genuine learning to happen, kids need to construct ideas for themselves, in their own minds. This is the kind of learning that is real and genuine and stays with us.
Because play is such a vital resource for healthy development, it is worrisome to observe the significant decline in children’s play today. Children are now playing less both at home and in school.
Giving kids undefined materials allows them to reach inward to create the props and symbols they need to get the most out of their play. This can’t happen when we give them defined toys or screen apps or games because the images are pre-set. They determine what happens in the play and impede a child from accessing his or her own imagination and emotional needs.
Today, the context in which children are developing socially and emotionally is changing rapidly and dramatically. Children are playing less both in school and at home and therefore, have less experience interacting with other kids. And it seems, judging from the research, that many children have less time or less focused time with parents. Many parents are less available to children because of time spent with technology. Because child development theory would tell us that children need lots of social interaction for healthy development, it is a concern that they are getting less of it today.