Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 31, 2013

Turn it off

Education expert to reduce screen time


The Andover Townsman

---- — She calls this generation “screeners” as they seem to be always looking at a media screen to hear music, play a video game, or talk and text on a cellphone.

And, kids are being introduced to the technology younger and younger, a fact that Nancy Carlsson-Paige finds especially worrisome.

The child development expert comes to Andover next week to talk about the media’s influence on today’s youths as the next presenter in the Andover Parent to Parent group’s annual speaker series.

Carlsson-Paige will speak about “Taking Back Childhood: Raising Kids in Challenging Times” on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at West Elementary School.

“I’m a grandmother, so I see younger and younger kids with screens,” she said. “It worries me. Why can’t kids just have free time and just play?”

Some of those grandchildren just happen to be the daughters of Hollywood superstar actor Matt Damon, who is Carlsson-Paige’s son.

Carlsson-Paige said even her own family members are concerned about media saturation with youths and are seeking to stem the infiltration of screen time in their children’s lives. They, like parents in Andover and elsewhere, want to know how they can slow down the screening madness, especially among the real young, she said.

“There are no easy answers ... this is complicated,” said Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita at Lesley University in Cambridge who has a doctorate in education. She was a founder of the university’s Center for Peaceable Schools.

Carlsson-Paige said research is showing screening overload is affecting a child’s development.

“It’s not good news,” she said. “... Too much media and screens is not making for a healthy development for a child.”

Carlsson-Paige blamed corporate marketing for targeting young children, motivating children to hound their parents for the latest media equipment. Taking on corporations is no easy job, she said. She and her son are no strangers to that. Together, they have opposed the Teach for America organization, lobbying against what they say is its use of young teachers in place of experienced educators.

On her visit to Andover, Carlsson-Paige will zoom in on a parent’s role in the battle against too much screen time.

“It’s hard, I know, because parents today are so stressed…” she said.

Admission to the presentation is free. For more information, visit www.andoverp2p.com.