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The effect of technology on your child’s brain – 29 November 2016

 

A parent in 2016 is sure to find at least one tech item on their children’s Christmas wish lists. Whether it is smartphones, tablets, computers or the latest wearable technology, there ought to be something on that Christmas list that did not exist a couple of years ago.

Technology with all its advancements can be daunting for parents, especially since the fast pace development is not allowing us enough time to really study the effect of technology on our children.

A recent study by Psychologytoday.com, aimed to investigate the effects of technology on the way that children think. They described thinking as: “the capacity to reflect, reason, and draw conclusions based on experiences, knowledge, and insights”.

According to the research Psychology Today and an article by Huffington Post technology and mainly the internet can have severe negative effects on the development of young children. Both agree that attention abilities raise the most concern. Humans develop basic skills by paying attention to the environment around us.

The concept is easily explained when looking at the animal kingdom. Predators like lions develop extraordinary visual attention that allows them to see and hunt their prey. Their prey, on the other hand, have well-developed auditory attention that allows them to hear approaching predators. In both cases specific abilities are developed and shaped by the environment. The human brain is no different. Children today get a lot of their environmental exposure from the internet, digital games and TV.

According to some research there are four factors which technology is impacting in a negative way: movement, touch, human connection, and exposure to nature. These are all vital for a child’s development. This combined with a decrease ability to read and comprehend large pieces of text and the lack of imagination is all causes for concern.

However, all is not bad. According to Psychology Today and researchers like Nicholas Carr, the fast pace world we live in might also assist children with the way they pay attention. With all the distractions out there, it is needed for children to develop in such a way that they can pay attention on important things and cut out the noise. Thus they suggest that children are not necessarily under developing because of technology, they are simply developing differently.

While children today might have trouble remembering facts, they are much better at finding the facts in the first place. While they might not be interested in reading large quantities of text, they are much better at scanning through large amounts of information.

It is important for a 21st century parent to seek the balance. Go ahead and buy your child a smartphone or tablet but make sure you are informed about the dangers and advances and decide what is best for your family.

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