Thanks for stopping by A Family Place. I enjoy working with families, and sharing the power of music with them. Kindermusik provides this outlet for me. This blog will allow me to share thoughts and ideas that can help families in their journey.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Technology versus Human Interaction

Over the next several weeks I will be sharing information I gained from the book, "Different Learners." Jane M. Healy is a teacher, educational psychologist and one of my favorite authors. As an educator I appreciate her insight into the brain and how it relates to children. She makes a difficult subject easier to understand.

This post is about technology and it's affect on children & families. The book, Different Learners, covers more than just media. But Healy believes that the growing "epidemic" of children's disorders (ADHD, autism dyslexia, etc..) is the result of today's fast-paced, stressed-out culture - which includes too much screen time.

I admit to spending too much time at the computer...emailing, blogging, and reading. I am not a fan of television or video games. That being said, the TV is on at my house a lot, and we purchased our first gaming system this Christmas! I have 4 children, and the oldest is 22 years. They were VERY surprised to receive a Wii under the tree. I plan to blog about that later.

Dr. Healy seems to support my aversion to excessive screen time. Let me share some of what I learned.

"There is absolutely no way that any electronic gadget - no matter how advanced - can provide this incredibly valuable stimuli for normal brain development."(p. 71) The stimuli that she refers to is contingent response. It is a critical factor in successful development, and a key in normal interpersonal responses. Gentle, reassuring touch and love are the ideal. No manufactured item can substitute for human warmth.

I know videos, such as Baby Einstein are popular today. I have had children in Kindermusik who have watched these, and can identify instruments aurally due to these well crafted videos. I know there are definite advantages to videos and computer games. I am convinced that my older children are better at math because of computer games that had wonderful math skills. But according to Dr. Healy, "infant videos, electronic music soothing babies to sleep, beeping, flashing toys that "capture" the child's brain, but screen out human language. These technologies can't respond instinctively to a child's immediate needs." (p. 72)

Media is not bad, it's how we manage it. "The real question is how the device (anything on a screen) is being used and whether the resulting brain changes are good or bad. In a hyper-tech climate, where good research lags far behind children's media usage, you have to become judge, role model and (if necessary) enforcer of your child's media health." (p. 297)

I will have several more posts concerning technology. Let me know your thoughts, and feel free to disagree.

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