By Graeme Paton
Young people’s brains are failing to develop properly after being overexposed to the cyber world at an early age, it was claimed.
Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, said a decline in physical human contact meant children struggled to formulate basic social skills and emotional reactions.
She criticised the “unhealthy” addiction to Twitter among some users who resort to increasingly nasty outbursts under the “sanitised and often anonymous guise of the web”.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, she also raised concerns over the “narcissistic” nature of sites such as Klout, which measures users’ popularity and influence on social networks.
The comments come just 24 hours after teachers warned that over-exposure to technology was damaging children’s ability to concentrate in the classroom.
A survey of secondary English teachers revealed that more than three-quarters thought pupils’ attention spans were shorter than ever before.
Baroness Greenfield quoted figures showing that more than half of 13- to 17-year-olds now spend more than 30 hours a week using video games, computers, e-readers, mobile phones and other screen-based technology.
She said the human brain evolved to its surroundings and needed a “stimulating environment” to grow and properly develop.
Huh, exactly the same things were said 50 years ago about children who watched television. Wouldn't you know, too, that every bit of it happened exactly as predicted.ReplyDelete
FFfF: I'm not sure whether you're being ironic. Fifty years ago, we were the kids whose brains were being ruined by the new technology of TV. Le plus ca change . . . .Delete
No I wasn't. My mom wouldn't allow me to watch TV without her permission: she constantly told me to "Go outside and play." She wouldn't allow me to watch the Jerry Lewis show at all, because she said, "He was vulgar," and she was right.Delete
By the way, that my dear mother did not allow me to watch much TV may have contributed to my becoming the smartest kid in the school, and to grow up to become a college professor, a job that as you know has become miserable. Life loves its ironies, and now I am being ironic.Delete
Frod, sweetie, you're a data point of one. Throngs of others watched TV all day long and their brains didn't rot.Delete
Now, *THEIR* children? That's the troublesome sociological phenomenon to consider. Did the so-called rot skip a generation or two?
Their brains did too rot. For more about it, see the recent essay "Of Thee I Sigh: Baby Boomers Bust" by P. J. O'Rourke, available here:Delete
If you want any more evidence, consider that during his inauguration, JFK invited Robert Frost to read some poems. The night after Martin Luther King was assassinated, Bobby Kennedy calmed down an audience in Indianapolis with a speech that included lines from a poem by Aeschylus. Can you imagine what would happen if a politician were to try either, today? People would change the channel to WWE.
"My fear is that having an identity which is externally constructed and dependent on the moment-by-moment reactions of others..."ReplyDelete
That sentence pretty much describes the condition of being a middle- or high-school student. I was a little underwhelmed by the quality of the article, even though I'm a very sympathetic audience for reporting on education and technology.
For the past few years, my (high) school administration has been aggressively imposing digital technology throughout the school. The results for learning quality have been immediate and disastrous across the board.
The high school recently began a "laptop initiative" through which every student is provided with a small laptop and required to bring it to every class every day (the fee for the device is added to their tuition). The students are baffled and annoyed by the whole thing. They find the laptops to be an expensive distraction, and have already begun to unite against the admin's push to go completely to e-books. The kids do NOT want e-books; they recognize that they do not read as deeply or carefully on computer screens, and they are VERY aware of internet access (even in the form of "helpful" hyperlinks) as a distraction.
Our middle schoolers all have iPads. The results have been akin to asking a drug addict to carry around a giant bag of cocaine all day. Hey Kids! Here's the most distracting device ever created by man! Now don't use it inappropriately!
The administrators care about all of this...not at all. What matters is that their resumes say that they "implemented" an "initiative" that is flashy and trendy.
Sadly, the "system," even in very good schools, is often working against the best interests of good teaching and learning.
Agreed! My son and I resisted the netbook initiative in his middle school until a schedule change made it absolutely necessary. I bought a sturdy, padded bag for it. Within two weeks, the screen cracked in his gym locker, and we had to pay $125 to repair this thing he never wanted. The school wouldn't let him have a replacement because he'd broken the first one. He finished the class with an A anyway.Delete
Can you say "futile"?
" What matters is that their resumes say that they "implemented" an "initiative" that is flashy and trendy."Delete
That is a bingo!
"Greenie" aka Baroness Greenfield is well known around Oxford for being a self-agrandizing idiot who makes up data freely to support her pet ideas. Nothing she says should be taken seriously.ReplyDelete
As I was about to say.Delete
Ah. I thought it was a little light on evidence.Delete
I hate it whenever people like this are right, like when Rick Santorum (admittedly in his usual inimitable way) pointed out that college isn't for everyone, but I think Greenie is right, at least this time.Delete
The thing about TV: it doesn't require anyone to respond; you can plunk a child or an adult in front of it and leave them alone and they don't expect the TV to talk back or pay *them* attention... I'm good with that from my students. I'm less enchanted with their need for immediate feedback and constant stroking of egos.ReplyDelete
Indeed. And while I can make "beep" and "boop" sounds if absolutely necessary, I can't light up (well, not in approbation, at least).Delete