Dimitri Christakis’ discussion on technology and its effects on early childhood – brain development and stimulation left me feeling a bit deflated. I can’t help but think of the students I teach and their love of technology and the hours spent with it.
My main takeaways:
1). The brain scans indicating the under/overstimulation of the brain: It was incredible to see the ‘proof’, yet sad to realize the deficits that are involved with either extreme (lack of language skills and low attention span).
2). Coherent Narrative: Dimitri discusses the difficulty adult brains have (compared to baby’s) when trying to make sense of a Baby Einstein video. He states ‘though there is no coherent narrative for adults, babies aren’t actually capable of making sense from the video, hence the constant screen changes happening every few seconds.’
BUT rapid image change preconditions the mind to high levels of stimulation, leading to intention in later life.
“Conditioning the mind to a reality that does not exist.”
What can we do about it?
1) Cognitive stimulation – more real-time play is needed – read to children, sing songs, play, go on outings, etc..
2) Limit the amount of time children spend on technology.
3) Monitor the content: I was personally blown away by comparisons between Powerpuff Girls (non-stop stimulation) and Mr Rogers (real-life simulation of a restaurant visit). Do children know what is real and what is not real?!
What can I do with all this information?
Digital citizenship is about one’s knowledge and balance between the real world and the digital world. Adults need to take steps to educate themselves so they can protect those who are vulnerable to the overstimulation of technology as well as teach the glories of real-world play.
I decided to take my 6-year-old niece on a real-life outing, but one that combined her love of technology –
(she’s going to drive like her aunt – pedal to the metal)…
Get out there and have some fun!
Stimulate those brains!