School Spotlight: Wayzata Early Learning School
Step inside a classroom at Wayzata Early Learning School and you’ll find toddlers engaged in play time. They’re interacting with each other and with their teachers.
For much of human existence, this has been a relatively routine scenario. Sara Ridley, a speech language pathologist based at Wayzata Early Learning School, would like to keep it that way.
“Our focus in early childhood not only is to build a child and get them ready for kindergarten, but also to continue to keep a family’s well-being intact,” Ridley said.
One way to keep a family’s well-being intact is to keep smartphones and tablets out of the hands of young children.
“It’s fine for a brain that’s developed,” Ridley said. “Not good for a brain that’s brand new, fragile, and new to the world. It’s wired to human interaction. Not technology interaction.”
Screen Time Impacts Child Development
Over the past year, Ridley has researched the impact of handheld screens on children under age 3. The results are of her findings are less than ideal.
“More aggressiveness. Impulsiveness,” Ridley said. “Children that have a hard time self-calming and regulating and coping, and having trouble sleeping and having trouble eating.”
To help prevent all of those things, she’s been on a mission to educate families on the negative effects of handheld screens.
“Every family that comes into our program, they get this education and support,” Ridley said. “I’ve done trainings here at the program and we’ve kind of incorporated this into the curriculum and conversations that we’re having with parents.”
To be clear, Ridley says technology still plays an important role in education, as long as adults use it alongside children.
“But what’s happening in our home systems, is that kids are given [technology] to do in isolation,” Ridley said. “And that pattern of precedence continues, and that’s where kids run into trouble.”
The hope is that families will get back to some of the basics of human interaction.
“Talk, play, read, be with your child each and every day,” Ridley said.
To find more of Ridley’s research on the impact of handheld screens, click on the following link: Tech Toddlers flyer_