Technology Has Mixed Effects On Child Development, Research Suggests

Dennis Faas's picture

According to a UCLA professor, today's kids might use their brains much differently than children in previous generations. The findings could mean that current teaching and testing methods are ineffective in estimating their intelligence.

Patricia Greenfield looked at more than 50 studies of technology's effects on children. She found that media such as television and video games do limit some aspects of their mental skills, but also help improve them in other ways.

Tests over the last 50 years show a clear and consistent increase in visual reasoning skills. These involve seeing information and processing it quickly to come to a judgment.

One of the most graphic examples of this is a study which found that surgeons who were skilled at video games were better at keyhole surgery. This link was so strong that it appeared video games were better practice than surgery.

The studies also found that today's children are better than their ancestors at multitasking. This appears to be a result of the increasingly complex visual information they deal with.

However, the changes aren't all positive: while children can cope with complex information, it doesn't always aid learning. For example, one test found that children who watched a version of CNN Headline News with only the news announcer on screen remembered much more detail about the stories than those watching the standard version with multiple on-screen graphics.

Technology also appears to be damaging critical reasoning and attention span, leaving children less skilled at concentrating on a particular point for a long time. This makes it much harder for them to solve longer and more complex problems.

Greenfield says the education system needs to learn from this study. For example, allowing children to research a subject through the Internet is better suited for teaching them research skills than for making sure they learn and remember the particular facts. (Source

Rate this article: 
No votes yet