Virtual childhood. Does it benefit or disadvantage the new generation?
The development of technology has a large impact on the way humanity grows and educates children. The change has provoked lots of arguments whether digitalisation will benefit the future generations or, instead, will create the gap between thinkers and followers. Let's see what arguments each of the sides have to present.
not only the morally
right thing to do
In his talk on Ted, Timothy Bartik has argued why investing in early childhood education makes sense as a public investment. Investigating the correlation between the investment in the preschool education and economic development of their state economy, Timothy have noticed a robust pattern connecting those two on first sight irrelevant things. "For every dollar invested in early childhood programs, the per capita earnings of state residents go up by two dollars and 78 cents, so that is a three-to-one return." This statement has turned the investment in early education to new economic incentives. The well-educated kids are not only right thing to develop but also a benefit for every citizen.
The business trend is to digitalize itself becoming more profitable and up-to-date competitive (Click here to read about digital economy analysis). The Chack Preschool online, the contemporary example of the preschool education has 60 000 members using "a smarter way to entertain the kids". The online portal is an educational entertainment for children from 18 months to 6 years. Hundreds of videos and games including exercise video and healthy cooking lessons are available for parents and their kids. Such programs occupy kids providing parents with free time for themselves and everyday tasks. Parents admit that the Chack online preschool develops their kids: "Our Son is 4 years old and was recently evaluated for Kindergarten and he scored above his age level. This is a direct indication of the CHALK curriculum. He is more than prepared for Kindergarten." R.B.- Los Angeles, CA. However, pediatrics and researchers argue whether those programs are beneficial for the future generation.
The life speed has increased rapidly within the last decade. As well as the consumption rates triggered by the business marketing strategies and globalization. As the result, people have to find the way to balance between family, jobs, sports, friends, entertainment and their children. Even the shift of the family responsibilities towards men influences on the way childhood is nowadays. With the lack of time and the progress of the technologies, parents more often rely on the education of their children in hands of gadgets, TV shows, and movies. Children under two years old spend twice as much time watching TV than reading the books, which is 53 minutes against 23, respectively. Kaiser Foundation study in 2010 stated that infants spent two and a half hours in front of TV per day, and up to 25% already have a TV in their room. With the time, children start to use the technologies for the whole adult working day time (about 7.5 hours per day) and only quarter has no TV or computer in their rooms. The impact of such trend is tremendous: 30% of children are developmentally vulnerable when entering the daycare and about the same percentage of kids suffer from obesity.
Based on her research in the balancing the technology use for children and youth, Cris Rowan has founded the ZoneIn educational program. Cris claims that the influence of the technologies to the child's brains is no longer sustainable and may be irreversible. The problem is that while playing with the devices and watching the programs, the developing sensory, motor, and attachment systems are not involved and, as a result, do not develop as they should. Technology overuse causes the physical disorders like obesity and diabetes in the early stage of life. Cris have concluded her research in the graph, illustrating the difference in technological approach versus the traditional one.
The pediatric occupational therapist shows that if the four critical for children development factors like movement, touch, human connection, and nature exposure are not achieved, the outcome is unsustainable. While those factors are in the reduction, the visual and auditory systems are overloaded. Cris call for action from parents to balance the technology involvement in the children daily activities.
According to the study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, children's social skills are declining as they have less face-to-face interaction. Two groups of six-graders participated in the experiment. The treatment group, which had five days without smartphones, computer games, TV or any other digital screen, have shown to be more sensitive and being able to read emotions substantially better comparing to the control group. “Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology in the UCLA College and senior author of the study. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”
The question of lack of the communication caused by technology overuse arises in the families. Innovators already look for the ways how to return the family dinners back to life. Here is one of the examples:
While online programs for kids report the positive results, they are short-term causing the physical deviations. Experts call for attention to the problem and relief the technological excitement. Balancing the new technologies and traditional education is the appropriate way to raise the new generation.
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