“Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it.”
– Stephen Hawking, 2015
- Remember our childhoods? Play was rolling down hills, climbing trees, building forts, impromptu ball games or tag, riding our bikes, playing in the sandbox, and endless hours of imaginative play. Play was about having free unstructured independent time to creatively challenge our bodies and our brains. Times have changed for sure, due to many reasons. Technology being one.
- While adults mostly rely on technology for efficiency in their work and home lives, children now rely on technology mostly for play.
- As children spend increasingly more time connecting with technology, they are disconnecting from play, nature, and relationships at a very rapid pace.
- While the allure and excitement of technology continues to advance, our children are being enticed into an addiction that we know very little about, and therefore can not possibly see the future ramifications. What we do know is that TV and videogame addiction has causal links to increases in sensory-motor delays, attentional struggles, learning disabilities, sexual promiscuity, depression and anxiety, addictions, aggression, obesity disorders and sleep disorders to name a few. (Rowan, 2015).
- Extended periods of time in front of a flickering screen and less time spent in independent unstructured play affects the attention span of children. There are two kinds of attention, the involuntary attention or startle reflex we share with animals, and the voluntary, sustained attention required for complex tasks. Electronic games (and television) rely on the startle reflex with sudden changes in size, sound, or actions which irresistibly draws our attention back to the screen. Sustained attention requires effort and it requires screening out distractions, both internal and external. It is this sustained, focused attention which is required in a school setting, and too many children have too little practice in it. (Elsje de Boer).
- Education technology is not evidenced based, yet entire school districts are moving rapidly toward virtual teaching, with the teacher being referenced as the “moderator”. Digital (screen) reading vs. print reading compromises attention, comprehension, memory, learning and meaning.
- Staying connected has become an addiction called nomophobia. It is not yet formally recognized, btu a proposal is out to include it in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) (Castle, 2014).
- The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that today’s children are spending an average of 7 hours a day on screen time. This includes time spent watching television, using a computer/tablet, playing videogames, talking/texting on the phone, or using any electronic device. (Innis, 2014).
- The American Academy of Pediatrics media policy (2013) is no technology exposure for children ages 0-2 years of age, and 2 hours of total technology per day for children/teens ages 2-18. Pediatricians are strongly encouraged to take a media history and ask 2 media questions at every well-child visit.
- Every one hour per day of technology use prior to the age of seven, increases that child’s risk of attention problems by 10 percent upon school entry.
- PET scan studies show that technology use greater than 5 hours per day was consistent with neurological “pruning” of tracts to the frontal lobe of the cortex, known for executive functioning and impulse control. (Small, G, 2008).
- Parents, teachers, educators, government, researchers, and technology production corporations need to join together to manage the balance between technology use and healthy activity, a concept termed “Balanced Technology Management”. (Rowan, 2015).