Tag Archives: television

The Touch-Screen Generation

Young children—even toddlers—are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development?

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its policy on very young children and media. In 1999, the group had discouraged television viewing for children younger than 2, citing research on brain development that showed this age group’s critical need for “direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers.” The updated report began by acknowledging that things had changed significantly since then. In 2006, 90 percent of parents said that their children younger than 2 consumed some form of electronic media. Nonetheless, the group took largely the same approach it did in 1999, uniformly discouraging passive media use, on any type of screen, for these kids. (For older children, the academy noted, “high-quality programs” could have “educational benefits.”) The 2011 report mentioned “smart cell phone” and “new screen” technologies, but did not address interactive apps. Nor did it broach the possibility that has likely occurred to those 90 percent of American parents, queasy though they might be: that some good might come from those little swiping fingers.

I had come to the developers’ conference partly because I hoped that this particular set of parents, enthusiastic as they were about interactive media, might help me out of this conundrum, that they might offer some guiding principle for American parents who are clearly never going to meet the academy’s ideals, and at some level do not want to. Perhaps this group would be able to articulate some benefits of the new technology that the more cautious pediatricians weren’t ready to address. I nurtured this hope until about lunchtime, when the developers gathering in the dining hall ceased being visionaries and reverted to being ordinary parents, trying to settle their toddlers in high chairs and get them to eat something besides bread.

I fell into conversation with a woman who had helped develop Montessori Letter Sounds, an app that teaches preschoolers the Montessori methods of spelling.

She was a former Montessori teacher and a mother of four. I myself have three children who are all fans of the touch screen. What games did her kids like to play?, I asked, hoping for suggestions I could take home.

“They don’t play all that much.”

Really? Why not?

“Because I don’t allow it. We have a rule of no screen time during the week,” unless it’s clearly educational.

No screen time? None at all? That seems at the outer edge of restrictive, even by the standards of my overcontrolling parenting set.

“On the weekends, they can play. I give them a limit of half an hour and then stop. Enough. It can be too addictive, too stimulating for the brain.”

All-22

The camera angle that the NFL doesn’t want you to see.

Without the expanded frame, fans often have no idea why many plays turn out the way they do, or if the TV analysts are giving them correct information. On a recent Sunday, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith threw a deep pass to tight end Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown. Daryl Johnston, the Fox color man working the game, said Smith’s throw was "placed perfectly" and that Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Corey Lynch was "a little bit late getting there."

Greg Cosell, producer of the ESPN program "NFL Matchup," who is one of the few people with access to All-22 footage, said the 49ers had purposely overloaded the right side of the field so each receiver would only be covered by one defender. Lynch, the safety, wasn’t late getting there, Cosell says. He was doing his job and covering somebody else. Johnston could not be reached for comment.

Frank Hawkins, a former NFL executive during the 1990s who is now a Scalar Media Partners consultant, says he remembers the NFL considering releasing the All 22. The biggest objection, he said, came from the football people.

Charley Casserly, a former general manager who was a member of the NFL’s competition committee, says he voted against releasing All-22 footage because he worried that if fans had access, it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio. Casserly believed fans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All 22, without knowing the full story.

"I was concerned about misinformation being spread about players and coaches and their ability to do their job," he said. "It becomes a distraction that you have to deal with." Now an analyst for CBS, Casserly takes an hour-and-a-half train once a week to NFL Films headquarters in Mt. Laurel, N.J. just to watch the All-22 film.

Lonnie Marts, a former linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, says there are thousands of former NFL players who could easily pick apart play-calling and player performance if they had access to this film. "If you knew the game, you’d know that sometimes there’s a lot of bonehead plays and bonehead coaching going on out there," he says.

If I was the CFL, I would make the All-24 video available on CFL.ca.  Not only would there be demand for it (I would pay for it), it would also show that the CFL isn’t afraid of it’s fans like the NFL apparently is.