Reposted from Laramie County Library System
by Robin Papaleka
We’ve all been there. Your three year old is crawling under the table at the restaurant. Your seven year old is whining in the car. It’s so nice to toss an iPad or a phone into their lap and enjoy the peace and quiet! As the parent of a 3 and 4 year old, I struggle with this! I somehow got the idea that my children must be entertained or occupied at all times. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, the overuse of digital media and screens can put kids and teens at risk of sleep problems, obesity, cyberbullying, and negative performance in school. A report by Common Sense Media said children up to age 8 spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day on screens, and for 8- to 12-year-olds, the average was 4 hours and 36 minutes. (“How does your child’s screen time measure up?” CNN Wire, 15 Nov. 2017. Opposing Viewpoints in Context.) That’s between 15 ½ and 31 ½ hours a week!
At Laramie County Library our desire is help you unplug your kids and grow their minds and imaginations! We have books for everyone, in fact the 2nd floor is arranged from birth to teen! For babies we have board books as well as a Baby Music program, and don’t forget the very popular Baby Lapsit. For pre-school ages we have story times several times a week, and we are even doing a Pre-K STEM program in January for this age group. There’s chess club, Lego mania, Pokémon programs, and STEM programs for a variety of ages. That’s just to name a few of our unplugged, get-your-brain-moving programming for kids and teens! We also have an I-spy table, a play book-mobile and book factory area, and the ELC (the Early Literacy Center) where kids can put on puppet shows, learn letters, make music, and engage in imaginative play.
What we offer is an example of what libraries do for children. If you live elsewhere, check with your local library for their programs.
But what if you can’t make it to the library and you forgot to check out books for that long road trip? Boredom isn’t all bad. Encouraging contemplation and daydreaming can spur creativity. (“Make time for boredom: the surprising benefits of stultification.” The Atlantic, June 2017, p. 23. Opposing Viewpoints in Context) Just the very act of sitting and staring out the window with nothing to entertain you, forces the brain to imagine, wonder, tell itself stories, and do all the brain exercises that people have used for centuries before they had an iPhone in their hands, people like Einstein, Mozart, Rembrandt, or Galileo.
Let’s get back to the way things were. Let’s give our kids’ brains the unplugged freedom they long for! And while we’re at it, let’s put our own phones down and read a book, or day dream a while, or imagine animals out of the clouds!