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March 23, 2012
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I am a technology fiend. I am rarely seen without my macbook, iPad, iPhone and other techie devices that I use on a daily basis. I’m not the only one though, and more and more I find myself watching children playing with their parent’s iPhones, iPads, and iPods. The children of today are growing up in an extremely high tech society. Compare this to previous generations, where computers and video game consoles were just beginning to gain popularity, and iDevices did not even exist yet! However, what is the effect of these changes on topics such as play, brain development, imagination, attention, and language? Furthermore, could technology advance to the point that the development of “techie children” becomes quite different from the development of children not raised with these devices?

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, an American researcher from University of Washington, has discussed the ways in which technology affects how well we pay attention, saying that through our constant use of technology “you prime the mind to accept a fast pace. Real life doesn’t happen fast enough to keep your attention.”1 It is interesting to think of this effect of technology on our minds, but a little concerning as well, when you think about how lacking attention skills might affect children in school.

Patricia Greenfield, a UCLA researcher, has also pointed out the pros and cons of allowing children exposure to technology, which can cause increases in visual reasoning and multitasking, but may cause decreases in critical reasoning abilities.2

How technology such as iPads and iPhones affect children is one of those areas in our field that requires more research to really know how much of an impact is being caused, especially since iPads are starting to become highly integrated into therapy.

What do you think? There are always advantages and disadvantages to every issue, but do the disadvantages associated with technology use in children outweigh the positives? Are we creating a new generation of children who will have different developmental milestones due to changed brain structures and brain functioning?


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