Are we doing the right thing?

As a parent of teenagers, I worry about this topic a lot.

What do we actually know about the risks of screen time and digital media?
The lumping of everything digital into a monolith is a framing that makes Oxford Internet Institute psychologist Andrew Przybylski groan. “We don’t talk about food time,” he points out. “We don’t talk about paper time. But we do talk about screen time.” […]

The new series of papers includes a look at childhood screen use and ADHD, the effects of media multitasking on attention, and the link between violent video games and aggression. The separate papers are a good reminder that these are really separate issues; even if screen time ends up being problematic in one area, it doesn’t mean it can’t have a positive effect in another.

Nothing’s ever straightfoward, is it? Like its conclusion, for instance.

So, is digital media a concern for developing minds? There’s no simple answer, in part because the uses of media are too varied for the question to really be coherent. And, while some research results seem robust, the catalogue of open questions is dizzying. Answering some of those questions needs not just a leap in research quality, but, argues Przybylski, a reframing of the question away from the way we think about tobacco and toward the way we think about information: “What are the most effective strategies parents can employ to empower young people to be proactive and critical users of technology?”

Others have firmly made up their minds, however.

A dark consensus about screens and kids begins to emerge in Silicon Valley
For longtime tech leaders, watching how the tools they built affect their children has felt like a reckoning on their life and work. Among those is Chris Anderson, the former editor of Wired and now the chief executive of a robotics and drone company. He is also the founder of GeekDad.com. “On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it’s closer to crack cocaine,” Mr. Anderson said of screens.

Technologists building these products and writers observing the tech revolution were naïve, he said. “We thought we could control it,” Mr. Anderson said. “And this is beyond our power to control. This is going straight to the pleasure centers of the developing brain. This is beyond our capacity as regular parents to understand.”

Author: Terry Madeley

I work with student data and enjoy reading about art and design, data, education and technology.

2 thoughts on “Are we doing the right thing?”

  1. The adage “Everything in moderation” applies here. Anything can be addictive. I know someone who’s addicted to Rubik’s cube. He’s cubing whereever he goes.

    Technologies like social media and games are designed to be addictive. Some companies even hire psychologists and psychiatrists to help design the systems.

    So, it’s important to not get in to them too much.

    I believe that it’s the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children do not develop tech addiction.

    Btw, this made me remember a few weeks ago, I saw a toddler in a restaurant crying loudly and making a ruckus. The mother just handed him a smartphone and he immediately stopped crying. Wow, just wow.

    As for very violent games, they are rated 18+ for a reason. However, it seems to me a large number of players in games like GTA are kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right about it being the parents’ responsibility, but it will be interesting to see how that develops, as it often seems to be the case that the parents have just as big an addiction problem as the children…

      Like

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