Breaking the digital age


This mural was painted by the playground behind the Decatur Rec Center as part of “Screen-Free Week.”

Children are living in the era of the “couch potato.”

They are spending more time playing their PlayStation 3’s, while their bicycles and scooters are left to collect dust in the garage.

The average American child spends 20 to 30 hours watching television per week.

Are the possible entertainment advantages of newer technology being outweighed by the negative effects they have on kids?

According to Dr. Gavin Sandercock, a children’s fitness expert at Essex University, as kids spend more time with video games, they become physically weaker than previous generations.

The same study also found that kids had the same BMI (body mass index) as kids a decade earlier. This means that their bodies contain a higher body fat content.

The University of Washington states that overexposure to television can lead to ill-effects such as poor performance in school, a decrease in the ability to use imagination, and an increase in violent activity.

Reading is a great way to break out of the digital cycle.

“Little Shop of Stories is a great get-away,” sophomore Jenna Hanes, an employee at the local bookstore, said.

Little Shop of Stories hosted a “Screen-Free Week” starting on April 29. The purpose of the event to get kids away from the TV and show them other ways to entertain themselves.

One activity the Shop had planned was setting up a mural painting for the children to come and watch. Children’s books illustrators Chris Raschka and Bob Staake were in town that Wednesday the 1st to paint the mural in honor of “Screen-Free Week.”

Raschka and Staake are both award-winning illustrators. Raschka has illustrated such books as “A Ball for Daisy” and “Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop.” Staake has illustrated “My Pet Book” and “Robots. Robots Everywhere,” among many others.

The goal of events like these at the Shop are simple.

“We’re always trying to show kids that reading can be fun too,” said Hanes, “and we do more than just ‘Screen-Free Week,’ we also offer things like book clubs and readings at the Shop.”