Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Harm Technology Does To Children

Parents, grateful for ways to calm disruptive children and keep them from interrupting their own screen activities, seem to be unaware of the potential harm from so much time spent in the virtual world.

“We’re throwing screens at children all day long, giving them distractions rather than teaching them how to self-soothe, to calm themselves down,” said Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Harvard-affiliated clinical psychologist and author of the best-selling book “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age.”

Before age 2, children should not be exposed to any electronic media, the pediatrics academy maintains, because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.” Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies and “using their imaginations in free play,” the academy recommends.


Two of my grandsons, ages 10 and 13, seem destined to suffer some of the negative effects of video-game overuse. The 10-year-old gets up half an hour earlier on school days to play computer games, and he and his brother stay plugged into their hand-held devices on the ride to and from school. “There’s no conversation anymore,” said their grandfather, who often picks them up. When the family dines out, the boys use their devices before the meal arrives and as soon as they finish eating.

“If kids are allowed to play ‘Candy Crush’ on the way to school, the car ride will be quiet, but that’s not what kids need,” Dr. Steiner-Adair said in an interview. “They need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance.”
Technology is a poor substitute for personal interaction.

Out in public, Dr. Steiner-Adair added, “children have to know that life is fine off the screen. It’s interesting and good to be curious about other people, to learn how to listen. It teaches them social and emotional intelligence, which is critical for success in life.”

Children who are heavy users of electronics may become adept at multitasking, but they can lose the ability to focus on what is most important, a trait critical to the deep thought and problem solving needed for many jobs and other endeavors later in life.

Ah, but in many public schools, computerized learning is pushed for students both at school and home, as one commenter notes:

Even when parents want to keep their children away from video games, they are undermined by the schools. Administrators and teachers love the computers because they push responsibility for learning and teaching to the students and parents. Once the students start using computers in school, it is impossible to keep them away from video games and other distractions. 

We're fast becoming a society of distracted, emotionally stunted, overweight humans with little in the way of social and emotional skills to deal with the serious issues that arise during our lives and without the attention span or critical thinking skills to deal with them anyway.

Funny how so many of the geniuses in the tech world send their kids to schools where technology is either absent or rationed.

Want to bet that's not an accident?


  1. When we blame tech for everything, capitalism gets off the hook

    1. The link to the article in the Guardian:

    2. Nahh - tech is an integral part of capitalism. That's how they continue to deskill and drive down wages.

    3. That's the idea behind the article. Make us all into morons, more than ever.

  2. Enter your nearest coffee house and try to find people having a conversation. Most patrons are connecting with someone off site.

    Abigail Shure

    1. That's right. Drives me crazy. I have taken to saying "Get Off Your Fucking Phone!" when people are walking up stairs or on the street bumping into me because they're otherwise disengaged with the real world.

  3. Technology is changing the way are brains are processing information. Tangible modes of information are remembered at a much high level than via technology, yet schools are moving away from books. Cell phone are now de riguer in school much to the detriment of students and teachers. Its so bad it reminds me of when I was in high school and a classmate handed out LSD before our AP English class started. I was the only one who didn't partake and I watched in amazement as the teacher became increasingly incredulous and frustrated while teaching - much like teachers experience now because of technology.

    1. Wow - LSD before the AP exam.

      Aiko, aiko, man...

      Good point about how our brains are being rewired by tech.

      Given the way people no longer interact or learn how to interact, I can't say this rewiring is for the better.


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