Technology and the Developing Brain
Guest post by Gretel Galo.
As technological advances like Alexa™ continue to enhance the capacities of the smart home, parents, educators, and neuroscientists must consider how this daily interaction with technology may affect its youngest residents.
According to a Common Sense Media research study, 98% of children under 8 years of age have access to at least one mobile device within their home. And as children become avid multimedia consumers across several devices, areas of concern have emerged for parents and teachers, including:
- Privacy and safety
- Attention span and ability to focus
- Online bullying
- Technology addiction
Simultaneously, digital technology provides opportunities to:
- Unlock the potential of students with learning disabilities, as shown in Neuroscience and the Classroom, “Technology for Every Student.”
- Have an additional space for students to connect with peers, which can improve motivation to learn, according to Neuroscience and the Classroom, “Peer Mentoring.”
So how can parents and educators weigh the pros and cons of exposing children to emerging digital technology?
To understand how technology use may affect young brains, it’s important to first understand how early stages of brain development correlate to learning. You can learn about the young, developing brain in Neuroscience and the Classroom, “Neural Paths to Understanding.”
In Neuroscience and the Classroom, “Emotional Thinking” we learn that when students discover and direct their own learning process, their comprehension and retention of new concepts improves. This strategy is well illustrated in the success of the Montessori approach.
While more research is necessary to determine exactly how new technology affects brain development in children and teens, what we do know about the brain today suggests that an effort to have students learn to use technology as a tool of discovery and learn to curate quality content remains essential.
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