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Parents: Stop zap frying your baby's brain


No parent wants to unknowingly harm their child, but something is changing our kids. "DOCK 2" host and educator Tracy Levinson has been intrigued by the declining attention spans of her students.

According to a study by Microsoft Corporation, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2002 to eight seconds in 2013. This newer number is one second shorter than a goldfish, which can supposedly pay attention for 9 seconds.

Tracy acknowledged, “I know it can be stressful and sometimes embarrassing to be on a business call or in a public place and to have a crying baby, or complaining child. I also know that many of you are working, have several children, and some of you are single parents just trying to make it through the day. Giving yourself lots of grace is important."

Before cell phones, parents perhaps quieted their kiddos with a pacifier (which Tracy's mom told her would ruin her kid's teeth), a favorite book, or a fun toy. On the worst days, they might have succumbed to giving a restless child candy -- back to the rotten teeth dilemma. (And yes, her kids did get a few cavities.)

Honestly, parents were probably not thinking much at all, just trying to keep their children from being a distraction to their current project or to others. "I am not a perfect parent," Tracy admitted. "Our kids survived our imperfect parenting, and so will yours."

Your phone or iPad won't cause cavities and has a very high success rate of quieting your kid. Yet, there is enough disturbing evidence that encourages parents to take a deep pause before handing little people those cool technological gadgets. "Don’t beat yourself up if you have allowed too much technology to dominate your parenting," Tracy said.

However, let’s take a moment to reconsider its use, especially with babies. Your child only has one shot at a healthy brain. “Experts” consider the stage from birth to about three years old as the “critical period.” Tracy likes to think of the brain as a superhighway system, and the “critical period” creates the foundation for the whole structure.

Baby neural networks, located in the brain’s frontal lobe are extremely sensitive. This is where we decode information and comprehend social interactions. Facial expressions and vocal cues like tone and inflection are important in building relationships with actual humans.

Imagine a mom or dad snuggling up and reading a favorite storybook to a child. The little one has to visualize the pictures and exert mental effort and concentration to follow the story line. Now picture a baby with a synthetic smartphone or an iPad.

This kid seems so smart. With the swipe of a tiny finger they are rapidly spoon-fed dynamic colors, shapes, sound effects and words. This process can make their cognitive muscles lazy, because it does most of the work for them. Even worse, this instant gratification process produces glee-like dopamine which eerily mimics the brain process of a drug or porn user.

Tracy said, "I am not trying to freak parents out. Never mind -- that’s not true. I admit it: I am sorta trying to freak parents out. I really care about parents. Not going for guilt here. But, how about genuine concern? Don’t you agree that we should proceed in these uncharted technological waters with great caution, especially with the brains of our little people. As much as it stinks, let’s be inconvenienced."

"Let’s let them cry, if necessary," she continued. "Even though it’s a pain, let’s remove them from public places if we need to during a crying/complaining event."

For more information, check out this additional DOCK 2 video with Pastor Jon Brooks, a conversation between two educators who are passionate in encouraging parents raising the next generation.

To see more from Tracy, visit her channel on TheBlaze.

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