Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Influence of digital on children

I had a really interesting conversation with my friend a few days ago. We were talking about the difference between our generation and those, who are younger. Particularly we were talking about the digital and computer influence and then the conversation started about toddlers. Oh yes, it was an unexpected but really interesting conversation.

We started with the fact, that when we were younger, we spent most of our time outside home. It was almost impossible to bring us home in a good weather – we wanted to play with our friends outside and we had so many different games! We did not want to watch tv or play computer games – even though we had computer and we had such games as The Sims. We spent most of our time not watching at the screen. We also had Internet, obviously, things were different, but we had a programme called mIRC that we used for online communication (alternative to Skype), we also had a local social network (alternative to Facebook) and all those things we had before 2007.

What we can see now, that teenagers spend a lot of their time with the screen – facebooking, twittering, watching videos and playing games. It became normal to stay at home and play a computer game with 3 of your friends – yes, you can talk while you play and you play it together – but you are not together. How social it is? I would rather go outside and walk with my friend. It might be the reason why I prefer to spend my spare time outside home and why I love walking.

After such notices, we started talking about the toddlers. When I was small, I had barbies, dolls and different types of toys. But I did not have stories. Me and people I played with we needed to create stories by ourselves. And those stories were different every single time. Even when looking at the book and not being able to read I loved creating a story looking at the picture. Even at school, on a Literature subject, we had ‘essay style tests’ when we were given a picture and we needed to analyse it and see symbols, create a story. That way we were growing up and we were developing our brains and imaginations. What kids have now? Ipads? Dolls, barbies and toys from movies/tv series etc. – they already have stories and kids play according to those stories. They do not need to create their own stories, they just copy and play. They recognize stories and act according to them. They do not think.

I cant say that I hate smartphones, no – I love the progress and I love new things. But there should be a border when to stop simplifying people’s lives. Augmented reality is nice, but I do not see the need to turn it into reality, I do not see the need of posting every move on social networks. It is like… you need to live your life and experience it. Learn, analyse and think.
Oh yes, I did not point it out before, but my friend had read a paper around such a topic – that’s how the discussion evolved.

And this is how I started reading about children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued the recommendation that television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. Research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for one-on-one interactions with caregivers to allow for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills.

The AAP also recommends limiting older children’s total media time (with entertainment media) to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day. The younger the child, the less time should be spent with media. Despite the heavy promotion of media to parents of young children, research has shown that too much screen time has been linked to health, behavioral, and academic issues.

During Piaget's sensorimotor stage (birth to age 2), infants and toddlers learn by doing: looking, hearing, touching, grasping, and sucking. The learning process appears to begin with coordinating movements of the body with incoming sensory data. As infants intentionally attempt to interact with the environment, infants learn that certain actions lead to specific consequences. These experiences are the beginning of the infants' understanding of cause-and-effect relationships.

Also, just to point out - Sweden, for example, has banned television commercials targeting children under  12 since 1996. This raises the topic of advertising to children that I am not really keen looking at, as the topic is contradictive – there are both positives and negatives. At this point I will stop researching and leave the topic open.

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