Warnings about advances in technology are not a new thing.
In 1865 the United Kingdom passed the Locomotive Acts, that required self-propelled vehicles to be led by a pedestrian waving a red flag or carrying a lantern to warn bystanders of the vehicle’s approach. The Locomotive Act 1865, was also known as Red Flag Act.
Much has, of course, changed with technology over the last 154 years, however, I believe we still need to proceed with caution.
Currently $400 million is being spent on research, calledAdolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, to gain a clearer understanding of the impact of technology on youngsters.
The research will continue over the next decade and more than 11,800 children, currently aged between nine and ten are involved. The study, as they grow into early adulthood, will help us to understand the impact technology has on emotional development and mental health.
It is early days yet in the studies, however the ABCD two initial takeaways from the first 4500 children’s brain activities studied were:
- MRI scans found significant differences in the brains of some children who reported using smartphones, tablets, and video games for more than seven hours a day.
- Children who reported more than two hours a day of screen time got lower scores on thinking and language tests.
As a concerned grandparent, it seems sensible to me that we need to act now, rather than waiting for the ABCD research to be completed.
In ten years we may discover that avoidable damage has occurred in our children which could have been averted.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s study
Melissa G. Hunt, Rachel Marx, Courney Lipson and Jordyn Young observed that college students who limited their screen time to less than 30 minutes a day were less lonely and depressed after only three weeks.
These results excite me as they show we can help kids who are impacted by technology, however, I believe we need a better strategy than simply limiting students screen time.
A recent report in the Guardian about studies done by British Paediatric doctors into the increasing number of children starting school and being unable to hold a pencil.
This study suggests to me that we need to take steps to address this sooner rather than later.
“Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not be able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills,” Sally Payne, PhD, the head paediatric occupational therapist with the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust.
The British paediatric doctors behind the report pointed the blame on technology and the lack of traditional activities young children used to do, such as stringing beads, colouring, cutting out and other fine motor skill activities that were done in the past.
My web page has a selection of free downloadable activities and guides that I hope will give parents resources to encourage positive use of devices.
I hope to show parents how to use devices in a way that is beneficial to their children and provide them with life skills to cope with any possible negative impact the technology may have into the future.