Monday, September 8, 2014

Children are Changing

Technology can be a wonderful thing, but it has drawbacks

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover: Visitor Services Manager
For 44 years, I have taught children, and as Oprah says, “This I know for sure... .”
Technology is changing children and not always for the better. That’s my opinion, and last week I read an article published on, “The Alarming Truth About What Smartphones Could Be Doing to Your Kids” by Samantha Zabell —  which I believe supports what I think.
From ages 8 to 18, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that children spend more than seven hours per day using media outside of school. From 2011 to 2013 the percentage of children with access to smart devices has grown from 52 percent to 75 percent.
The University of California at Los Angeles wanted to investigate the real cost of the technology time.
The researchers decided to work with sixth graders in a public school who had reported using technology including texting, video games, and television for more than four hours per day. They gave the kids a test to evaluate their emotional intelligence or their ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions.
Then, they divided the subjects into two groups. One went to Pali Institute in California, a nature and science camp, where the students were immersed in outdoor activities and were unable to use electronic devices of any type for five days.  On the first test, the camp group averaged 14.01 errors when judging emotions, but on the second test they made 9.41 errors.  Students who remained at school did not show any significant improvement when retested.
So is emotional intelligence really important? Leaders in the field of psychology like Edward Thorndike, David Wechsler, Abraham Maslow, and Howard Gardner worked with measuring intelligence as related to learning potential. With the publication in 1995 of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters more than I.Q. by Daniel Goleman, people started to understand the impact of E.I. and the best seller brought the topic to the forefront.
Plato said, “All learning has an emotional base.” If a child has a less than average ability to evaluate emotions, will it affect learning and also social adjustment?  If our kids are not learning to properly relate to each other because of lost time with people, will there be consequences for teaching and society in general?  I believe that we are already seeing the results.
Over the past 20 years, scientific research in the fields which focus on learning like psychology, cognitive science, and psychobiology have revealed information which have had significant effects on teaching and learning. As parents and teachers, we should study the research and not be charmed by the lure of technology to seemingly make everything better.
Limiting the use of technology is a responsibility of adults.  It can be a wonderful tool for learning for all of us, but it can also have its drawbacks.
Child development must be nurtured and protected.  Too much time with technology can be harmful to the child as a learner and as a developing adult.

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