Do you ever get the feeling that our kids are over stimulated? Interactive game systems, a television station just for cartoons, Baby Einstein from the moment our kids can see, it’s no wonder that they can’t sit down in classroom anymore without the teacher having to do a song and dance while standing in front of a Smart Board. Do children have quiet “me” time anymore?
I am currently the father of one child. My wife and I are both in education and have several family members with kids. Our discussions recently have focused on attempting to manage the amount of stimulation our child receives in a given day, week, and month. It is a major concern of ours since we can only control it as long as we are around them.
I have a strong feeling that we over diagnosing ADHD in this country. It has become a fad among parents. Simply google this controversy and you’ll quickly see what I mean. Sure, many families would be devastated if they felt that anything was wrong with their kids and many feel that having an IEP is linked to a negative educational experience. However, this diagnosis has allowed hundreds of thousands of parents to take advantage of section 504 of IDEA. It provides the same accommodations that an IEP would and reduces the stigmata that parents fear. Some superficial perks are that these students can have extra time on classroom and standardized tests including the SAT’s and in a competitive “Ivy League” world a little edge never hurt. Also, parents who don’t care to be on top of their children’s homework can fall back on modified expectations. Sometimes I don’t feel that these accommodations are for the students at all!
I raise this issue because I feel like there isn’t actually anything wrong with these students. I believe they are simply the product of an over stimulating home environment. The are spend a majority of their time in front of a flashing, beeping, changing, loud, and draining monitor that fires off neurons until they are almost too burned out to keep their eyes open. Have ever seen the way a child becomes lost within a TV program or game system. You could be right next to them, call their name and get no response. Their brains are so occupied that yes, they have an attention disorder. Place them in a classroom where a teacher is giving a brief lecture followed by a worksheet and you could just imagine what takes place next. “Billy, could you stop tapping that?”, “Samantha, please focus up on the board.”, “Daniel, please sit down.” And the comments are endless. All of this followed by a teacher conference where a self-conscious parent is confronted with a child that doesn’t follow directions. I’m sure it easier to believe that your child has an attention deficit disorder than to except that your parenting skills might have produced a learner who is not conducive to the current day classroom.
I’m in no way implying that technology is a bad thing. In fact I feel quite the opposite. I think that it is something that needs to be introduced to kids as early as possible. However, it needs to happen in moderation and under supervision. Future classrooms will utilize theses devices and students will become apt at responsible usage.
What I am saying is we have to remain aware that when you live in a world where technology appears in the home before the classroom, students will look for new ways to be stimulated in school. In the crossover we as educators need to be cognizant and refuse to allow for the over diagnosis of conditions such as ADHD. Also, as parents and child advocates we should make sure to promote healthy “me” time for kids that doesn’t have a plug attached to it.
What do you think?
By Joe Putrino