In a recent Education Week piece, “Digital Technology Is Gambling with Children’s Minds,” author and Stanford University professor and researcher Elias Aboujaoude reports that, because of new technologies, “Writing, reading, focusing, and remembering have all been transformed, dictating new realities in the classroom and beyond.”
Among the findings:
- According to the Pew Research Center, even back in 2012, 14- to 17-year-olds were sending a median—the middle number in a set of sorted numbers—of 100 texts per day. Says Aboujaoude, “Much of the communications are in a language that bears little resemblance to the one they are being taught in school. This comes at a cost…”
- Reading, too, is affected. University College London research “suggests that online readers scan, flick, and power-browse their way through digital content, consequently looking for distractions in the form of other online material they could be reading.”
- Attention, too, is being compromised. Finds the CDC: The number of children and adolescents ever diagnosed with ADHD increased from 4.4 million in 2013 to 6.1 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the use of drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta rose by 27% from 2004 to 2014.
- And when it comes to memory, Aboujaoude writes, “Traditionally, education involved storing information into students’ heads. The search engine has made it so that learning is increasingly about mastering how to navigate databases. If, in this new paradigm, downloading has replaced retrieving information from a student’s internal library, what does it purport for digital natives’ memory neurons?”
His conclusion: “… Many potential consumers of this immense body of knowledge may be too distracted to truly benefit it. If they lose the taste for words, develop an allergy to grammar, compress their attention spans, and become impatient with the time and space it takes to develop an idea, all the ‘big data’ at their fingertips may prove of limited value, like a wasted resource for a generation that won’t know what to do with it. A frown emoji would seem appropriate here.”
Yes, indeed!! What say you?
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