“It can be hard for children to move on from screen time, but it doesn’t always have to be a battle.” A. Petersen, The New York Times, April 15, 2020
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Is Your Child a Digital Addict? Here’s What You Can Do, By Andrea Petersen, April 15, 2020
“When Meghan Cirrito tells her sons that their time watching ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ on their Kindles or the family’s iPad is over, it tends not to go over very well. ‘They’re completely outraged, shouting about how unfair life is and how mean I am,”’says Cirrito, 42, a stay-at-home mother of two boys, ages 5 and 8, and a community activist in Long Island City, Queens. That is, they’re outraged if they’re not outright ignoring her. ‘They act like you do not exist, nothing exists’ except the device, she says, ‘which is so creepy.’
Most parents of young children can relate to this scenario: their zombie progeny zoned out in front of a screen — then the tussles and tantrums that result when they take the device away. Transitions from one activity to another can be tough for little kids, but the move away from digital devices is often another level of excruciating…Young kids don’t have enough of an ability to regulate their emotions to consistently navigate that transition without freaking out… The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 18 to 24 months not be exposed to digital media — with an exception for video-chat — and that children 2 to 5 have no more than one hour of screen time per day. The organization also recommends that parents watch media with their kids to help them understand it…Letting kids do something enjoyable after screen time will be much easier than expecting them to go right to dinner, a bath or bed. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screens during meals and to shut them off at least one hour before bedtime.) It can also be helpful to have a reward chart, where kids get stickers for handing over the device without freaking out.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Examine the title of the actual article. Examine any photos, then create a list of words and ideas that you and your group members think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
- Kids love to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on their Kindles or the family’s iPad.
- Some children can become outraged when they are told watching time is over.
- One mom said that kids act as nothing else exists except the device, which is so creepy.
- Most parents of young children can relate to this scenario.
- Many parents see their zombie progeny zoned out in front of a screen.
- Then the tussles and tantrums that result when they take the device away.
- Transitions from one activity to another can be tough for little kids.
- The move away from digital devices is often another level of excruciating.
- These typical sweet children really take on a different persona when they take away the screens.
- Digital content is much more immersive and entrancing than the real world.
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Dr. Hiniker still suggest/suggests that parents give/gave there/their kids warnings, but recommends that/this families/family involved/involve children in/on the process bye/by letting them/those chose/choose when warnings will happen (10 minutes vs. 5 minutes before screen time is over, for example), and then/than letting them set the timer and way/weigh in on which activity to/too do when the video or game is over.
Reading Comprehension Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “They’re completely outraged, shouting about how unfair life is and how mean I am.”
- “The intense sounds, colors and rapid movement of digital content can make it much more immersive and entrancing than the real world — and therefore much more difficult to disengage from.”
- “It is intensely gratifying. Plus, many apps and video games give rewards in the form of points or virtual stickers, and getting those rewards can be fun.”
- “Recommends that children younger than 18 to 24 months not be exposed to digital media.”
- “It helps to make screen time a predictable and scheduled part of children’s routines.”
- “It is almost Pavlovian. And it may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t try to end kids’ screen time when they’re in the middle of a game or video.”
- “Parents need to stay strong and stick to their plan even when faced with vociferous whining.”
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Do you play video games? How often?
- Do you have children who play video games? Do you feel that they play the games too much? Please explain your answer.
- According to Rebecca Berry, what are some of the distractions digital content has that makes it more appealing than the real world?
- Describe what happens to the brains of kids while playing digital games.
- When kids are stopped from playing games what happens to their brains?
- Which organization recommends children younger than 18-24 months not be exposed to digital media? What about children 2 to five?
- What other problems has excessive use of media caused in preschoolers?
- What are some suggestions for how parents can take away device time without causing problems?
- When screen time is planned how do children react? Why do you think this is?
- According to the article, is it a good idea to give warnings to kids before the screen time is over? Why or why not?
- According to Dr. Donahue why would a screen-time session that’s too short lead to tantrums? How much screen time does he suggest?
- What new information have you learned from reading this article?