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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: Is Technology Endangering Our Children?

Thought for the Day: It's time for Thursday's Psychology Trivia. As those of you who have been reading my blog know, I believe that social media and the internet hold great possibilities for the future of mankind. Just last week, I wrote about the The Power Of #Hashtags To #Empower Us. Today's psychology trivia question raises some important issues regarding the use of social media and technology by children. Here's the question: 

Which of the following correlations about young children's overexposure to technologies (cell phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been found to be true? 
a) Executive functioning & attention deficits, increased impulsivity & tantrums
b) Cognitive delays, impaired learning, & overall delayed development
c) Increased obesity
d) Sleep deprivation
e) Mental Illness, i.e., depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis
f) Problematic behavior & aggression
g) Addiction to technology
h) A category 2B risk (possible carcinogen) due to radiation emission
i) a), b), f), & g)
j) All the above
What do you think the answer is?

Did you guess j) All the above? If you did, you got it right. I found an article shared on google+ by +Lon Woodbury  from the Huffington Post  which shares Ten Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be banned for Children Under 12. it was written by Cris Rowan a pediatric occupational therapist who is urging parents to limit or ban handheld devices from children based on their age. She states that:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day (AAP 2001/13, CPS 2010). Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada 2012)."
The research findings which Rowan shared are troublesome, especially given the tendency for parents to proudly post videos and photos of infants and children playing on ipads and cell phones.  I have worked with children who appear to have many of the symptoms described above whose parents have been enforcing a ban on hand held devices due to addictive desire to surf the net and play games on their computers. Other children are displaying an obsessive attraction to constantly play violent games online coupled with aggressive behavior in school and at home.

The possible damage to a young child's developing brain is even more frightening. It could help explain the shorter attention spans and increase in ADHD among children.  The challenge to teachers and parents is to find a balance between the positive benefits of handheld devices and the negative ones. The recommendations for limiting the number of hours logged into the internet and social media for various age groups seems to be wise.

I would love to hear your thoughts and reactions to this information and the article, which will probably raise many questions and concerns. Are the guidelines enforceable?

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