The murky world of mobile devices and Internet usage

With more than half of Americans owning a smart phone and 25% of children under the age of 2 two having one also, are we becoming a society of addicts that are slaves to our smartphones? English film director, Beeban Kidron, believes we are, and her latest documentary, InRealLife, unearths some shocking, devastating and damaging psychological consequences of mobile devices and Internet use.  From a 15-year-old boy who has learnt all he knows about relationships and girls by immersing himself daily in pornography, to a young girl willing to allow herself to be sexually assaulted to regain possession of her Blackberry – this can’t be how we want the next generation to grow up!

Reading: a complex cognitive process that requires continuous practice, development, and refinement

While this title is true, recent studies have shown that the medium a child uses to read can affect his or her overall ability to read.  The days of burying your head in a good paperback are disappearing, to be replaced by the era of the e-reader – and with the Kindle now being aimed at children, screen time is only going to increase further.

For us at ANH, it’s all about balance: we love the idea of getting kids to read more and have them enjoy the informal learning, magic and escapism that a good book can provide, but agree with the call for a healthy divide between print and electronic devices.  And if kids can read for pleasure, then it’s all the more beneficial, as this has been shown to result in better progress in the classroom compared with children who don’t read.

Digital dementia: a new form of brain damage found in the young

Laptops, e-readers, online gaming and smartphones all involve serious amounts of screen time and very little effort, which could be affecting us detrimentally more than we realise. Young people are becoming so over-reliant on technical gadgets that Dr Devra Davis, author of Disconnect, warns that humanity ‘faces an entire generation without the capacity for empathy’. A growing number of children have been found to be suffering from a form of brain damage referred to as ‘digital dementia’.

These stories are a collective wake-up call for all of us, especially our children and young people, and those who care for them. As ever, the adage applies: If you don’t use it – you lose it! Although electronic devices are now perceived as ‘essential’ to certain aspects of modern living, and particularly the adult workplace, we must find time—every day—to turn them off. And while they’re off, spend time doing other things you enjoy, interact verbally with your friends and family, meditate, listen to music, be creative or get outdoors!


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