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media junkie

  • 1.  media junkie

    Posted 23 days ago
    I'd like your thoughts on this situation:
    I'm the family advocate for EHS home-based program in rural Alaska.
    I have a 3-yr old who is a media junkie.  She has a child iPad, and seems to be on it as much as possible.  She also knows all the music/songs for t.v. shows and favorite movies (Frozen II, for example).
    She's smart and enjoys home visits.  Her parents seem to enjoy home visit activities as well.
    the problem: this child can solve puzzles, match colors and letters, "paint"... all on the iPad, but has trouble with them IRL!  (in real life).
    She does not want to draw or color or paint, or work with jigsaw puzzles, which are all age-appropriate.  the 'real" stuff seems to bore her; she'll do a little, then move on to another activity.  her parents seem to think this shows how smart she is.  I don't want to tell them her skills are going to deteriorate, but that's what I think is going to happen.
    During home visits, parents enjoy the activities, but tell me the child can do so much more on the iPad!  If I extend the activity to be a little more challenging, the child asks the parents for help right away.  If they encourage her to continue on her own, she quits.
    aarrrgh!  your thoughts?

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    Eugenia Grammer
    education/disabilities Services Coordinator
    Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments
    Venetie AK
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  • 2.  RE: media junkie

    Posted 23 days ago
    I may be way off but have some thoughts/questions.  Are there attachment issues or something else that prevents her from wanting to spend more time in her relationships?  Is there something developmental going on with her that is at the root of this?  Or perhaps she was introduced to this at such an early age and has been given so much praise for doing it well that she has almost an addiction to using the device?  Perhaps she needs more support and validation for off-line activities.


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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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  • 3.  RE: media junkie

    Posted 23 days ago
    I definitely agree with Aren's response!  I'm also wondering if this an opportunity for parent education on screen time in early childhood.  I would start with asking how much time she spends on the iPad and then move toward recommendations to reduce that time.  There is lots of information out there on brain development and the need to use whole hands on concrete materials to reach one's full potential.

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    Sherrie Rose Mayle
    Director/Teacher
    Campbell Parents' Participation Preschool
    Campbell, CA
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  • 4.  RE: media junkie

    Posted 22 days ago
    I do not have any great words of wisdom for you but one thing that jumped out at me is her lack of desire to do the small motor tasks. Has to much ipad and phone use caused her fine motor skills to lag behind making these tasks more difficult? Maybe try some tasks such as playdough, clay, etc to hold her interests and maybe spark some creativity.
    Good luck

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    Laura Richardson
    Jefferson College CDC
    Hillsboro MO
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  • 5.  RE: media junkie

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hi Eugenia. I'll echo what some others have said, but framed in a slightly different way: Are you sure the problem is iPad use and not something else? Is it possible that her comfort with the iPad is a consequence, not a cause (in which case, insisting that she spend less time on the device that is helping her cope might not be the best idea)?

    If you are sure that time on device is really the problem, then you might try some strategies for play that integrate hands-on activities with the things she loves about the tablet. For example, you might invent an imaginary friend who really wants to paint, but who doesn't have an iPad. Ask her if she can help you figure out a way that the friend could paint without an iPad. Invite her to explain what is great about painting on the tablet. Then ask her to show you how your friend could experience that great stuff without an iPad. (This might be a lot to ask of a three-year-old, but you said she was smart).
    You could follow up by having her help you make a video or use an app like Book Creator to show the friend how to paint without a tablet. That way she's using the tablet for a RL purpose & audience and doing a task that requires some hands-on tasks in order to make the iPad useful. You might take turns being the one taking video or photos (so she is doing the RL actions) and being the "actor" (so she can take the pictures). If you engage in her play on the tablet, maybe she'll be more open to engaging with you when you offer a play activity on the floor or table.
    One final thought that maybe you have tried already. Can you link the hands-on activities with the media she loves - e.g., a jigsaw puzzle of a scene from Frozen that she gets to keep if she can put it together? Maybe she needs to see that the things she enjoys on the screen can also be enjoyed off screen. Let go of your concerns about screen time for a few minutes to let your own imagination run wild. I'll bet some additional strategies will come to you.
    Good luck and keep us posted!

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    Faith Rogow, Media Literacy Education Maven
    Ithaca NY
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  • 6.  RE: media junkie

    Posted 22 days ago

    Thank you, Aren, Sherrie, Faith, and Laura, for your quick response. 

    Aren, yes, she was introduced to this at an early age, and has received only positive reinforcement for using the iPad, through the device itself and her family.

    She does not have any attachment issues; Her mom works at a full-time office job, and her father is a subsistence worker (hunting, fishing, trapping, hauling wood and water; repairing ATV and snowmobile).    I only visit the family for 90min/week, so I don't know what happens with the family dynamics. The child is friendly and happy to greet visitors.  Both parents are involved in the program and interact joyously with their child during home visits, playing games & sharing artistic moments.  When I leave materials for the games/crafts for further use during the week,  however, I'll be told the next visit that they did not repeat the activities during the week.

    Sherrie, I've shared AAP recommendations for screen time for babies and toddlers with the family, and we have discussed this.  The parents don't count the minutes/hours their child is on-screen (either watching t.v. or playing with the iPod), but assure me that they're not overdoing it.

    I have observed the child on the device only once, when I dropped by the house to leave an invitation.  She was totally involved with the iPad and didn't seem to know I was there; she waved bye, at someone else's suggestion,  without looking up.  She does not use the iPad while I'm there for a home visit, but her parents tell me about how excited and proud they are about how much she can do on it.

    Faith, I will invite her to show me her apps in a future home visit.  I may be able to take some of the concepts and develop a game or activity that matches the activity in the iPad.

    Laura, weakening of fine motor skills is one of my concerns with this child.  I'm making activity packs for each of my families during COVID-19 isolation, and will include recipes for making play dough, with suggestions for use.  I'll also encourage the parents to participate in fine motor activities (I used to have a fine-motor Olympics with my kindergarten!)

    Thank you all for your ideas!


    Eugenia A Grammer
    CATG Early Head Start
    Family Advocate 
    Education/Disabilities Services Coordinator







  • 7.  RE: media junkie

    Posted 22 days ago
    Another thought to follow up on some of the other suggestions- to connect her interests (what is your favorite character from Frozen/find out from her parents what other things she really enjoys) with hands-on creation-can we make this out of playdough, or draw the character, then have her photograph her work and use a free app like Chatterpix Kids to make the playdough sculpture (art creation) " talk". She can also use the app to decorate or add some words about her creation. The app is pretty easy to use, and perhaps the combination will appeal...Or, perhaps take a walk and gather a few objects outside/twigs etc, or even using collage materials such as cutting up paper, feathers but not gluing them down, and create an arrangement, then use the Kaleidoscope view in the Photobooth app (free) which comes on the iPad to discover how to make the most beautiful design, then take a photo. Wonder if her parents might be interested in doing something that blends hands-on creation (using the materials/activities you leave) and iPad use during the week? Yes, good luck exploring new directions...

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    Bonnie Blagojevic
    Morningtown Consulting
    Orono ME
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