Source – expandedconsciousness.com
– “…Extended periods of screen time during this interval “is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary—all those abilities are harmed”:
As someone who was in kindergarten when widespread use of the Internet was first becoming a real thing, I can tell you that I’ve grown up around electronic devices and the screens used to display information from them my whole life. Nowadays? Technology is even more intertwined in the lives and households of families all over the globe.
One of my first cellphones was a Motorola Razor that I got my senior year of high school. Which can be hard to believe when I’m visiting my aunt’s house and all three of my little cousins have tablets, smartphones and game consoles. Of course, I think technology is great. Those kids will have learned how to navigate most user interfaces by the time they reach ten years old. Not to mention the countless number of educational games and apps they will have sorted through.
But, at what point does staring at a screen become a bad thing? We’ve always been told not to sit too close to the television because it would ruin our eyesight; now we’re being told, by a number of studies, that prolonged exposure to electronic media has been linked to delayed cognitive development in children. The U.S. Department of Health reports that the average American child spends a total of seven hours each day staring at electronic media, with children as young as two playing on iPads and other toys that feature touch screens.
Dr. Aric Sigman, fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, says that a child’s age is highly important when considering how much screen time is too much. From the day we’re born to the time we turn three, our brains are especially sensitive to the world around us. It is during this time that the brain changes and molds into the foundation on which all other future brain functions will be constructed.
Extended periods of screen time during this interval “is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary—all those abilities are harmed.”
It is technology’s ability to put numerous different stimuli right at our fingertips, as well as process them simultaneously, that the brain specifically suffers from. Young brains need specific stimuli that can only be gathered from an outside environment, due to the course of human evolution.
The brain’s frontal lobe, which is associated with social interaction, develops mainly during that critical period between birth and three years old, and is highly dependent on genuine human stimulus. A child does not get this human stimulus when they are spending all of their time staring at screens when they should be playing and socializing with others.
If they do not learn these empathetic abilities to read and instinctively analyze others, they will suffer in this area most of their life.
It programs them to prefer instant gratification
Have you ever noticed a young child mimicking the ‘swipe’ gesturing of a tablet or phone when interacting with a real photograph? It might seem funny that the child thinks he’s dealing with technology, but it’s actually quite worrying. It’s a sign that deep in the child’s brain he’s begun to internalize the idea that his actions will produce an immediate effect, and that all stimuli will produce some sort of fast response.
While this phenomena works for technology, rarely anywhere else in the world does a simple swipe of the finger elicit such rapid and rewarding responses. So, when a child swipes the tablet screen and colors and shapes pop up, its brain is starting to fill with dopamine, the pleasure chemical that gets released as a reward. This dopamine production becomes addictive, and as they get used to receiving immediate responses to their actions, they start to prefer the instant gratification and reward of dopamine.
Eventually, they start to choose the immediately gratifying effects and stimuli over real-life connections and bonds.
You can still use tablets
While the dangers of overexposing your child to electronic media are very real, the educational benefits of technology should not be written off. Once your child is at least two years old, they can have limited screen time (about an hour each day) to help improve their coordination, reactions, and language skills. And remember, smartphones can be great tools for a developing child, but never let them take the place of real, human interaction.
Establish boundaries between the digital world and the real world early on so they can navigate both realms effectively.