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2024 Newsletter Term 1 - Week 6

Dear parents,

A recent study has found a negative association between screen time and early childhood development. While you could knock me over with a feather, the "hard data" emerging from the study underlines the crucial significance of what researchers are characterising as technoference (a play on the word interference). So here it is: at 36 months of age, "for 1 extra minute of screen time, children heard 6.6 fewer adult words, made 4.9 fewer vocalizations, and engaged in 1.1 fewer conversational turns."

It gets worse. The longitudinal study tracked 220 Australian families with children at 6, 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36 months. By 36 months, the typical child was consuming 170 minutes' screen time per day. On this basis, some simple arithmetic yields the observation that "children could be missing out on 1139 adult words, 843 vocalizations, and 194 conversational turns per day."

Like it or not, technoference is with us for the long haul. Nonetheless, researchers suggest that as "a language-rich home environment is critical to children’s language development, which promotes school readiness and success throughout the educational system," screen time may also be an occasion for opportunity. Managing the challenge and turning it to our advantage, rather than ruling it out may be a more helpful, realistic and creative response.

Researchers suggest that interactive coviewing and selecting programs that encourage active engagement and afterviewing conversation, for example, will help to ameliorate the potentially stultifying effects of passive viewing.

Meanwhile, newspapers are reporting this week that stock exchanges can barely keep up with the up-tick of AI-invested tech companies' share prices. As the challenge grows, our homes (and school!) need to take control or be controlled.

As always, thank you for your support.

Warm regards, Ian Smith Principal

Week 6 Term 1 2024 Newsletter
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