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Spare the screens, save the child

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To prepare our children for the future and help them to be valuable members of society, we need to equip them with the social and emotional skills that a computer cannot provide, says Rabbi Ricky Seeff, the Principal of King David Primary School Victory Park.
by Martine Bass | Jun 14, 2018

Rabbi Seeff was responding to a talk at the school last week by Dr Lizzie Harrison, titled “‘Living in a Digital World”. Harrison highlighted the impact that screen time and content exposure is having on children and offered parents advice on the best way to achieve balance in their children’s lives.

“The world will need emotionally intelligent, socially capable, and empathetic human beings to be the leaders of the future, and to produce such people requires a concerted effort not to let screens take over their lives,” Seeff says.

Harrison, a qualified medical doctor with a degree in Neuroscience and Psychology, has travelled all over South Africa educating children, parents, and teachers on the dangers facing children today, particularly in regard to social media, technology use, bullying, and inappropriate sexual activity.

Excessive screen time has a number of detrimental consequences for our children, she said, including poor sleep patterns, aggressive behaviour, poor concentration, and poor social skills.

She shared a number of resources that could be valuable in helping to navigate this scary, unchartered world. The first, www.commonsensemedia.org, is a website that can help parents understand the media their children are consuming and whether it is appropriate. The second, the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, www.healthychildren.org/english/tips-tools/newsletters/pages/default.aspx, has a multitude of helpful articles on creating a balanced lifestyle at home.

“This generation needs parents to engage wholeheartedly with the challenges the online world poses for their children,” Seeff says. “The risks are too great – to emotional and physical well-being. As parents, we no longer have the luxury of naivety.

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