Giving Compass’ Take:
• The author discusses the work of Dr. Dimitri Christakis, whose research focuses on the effects of technology and screen time on children’s social, cognitive and emotional development.
• Dr. Christaskis main concerns are that iPads will soon replace real toys and decrease family interaction, which can stunt children’s development. How can families be more mindful of the use of technology as their children grow up in an increasingly digital world?
• Read this report highlighting the damage of excessive screen time.
It may seem as though digital devices and touch screens like the iPad have been around for decades, but the reality is that these devices have only been around for about 10 years. In that short amount of time, they have become ingrained into everyday life, but research on their impact is limited. What concerns researchers like Dr. Dimitri Christakis is that we don’t yet understand the effects these devices may have on young children, and so that’s why they’ve taken center stage in many of his research studies.
According to Christakis, he has two fundamental concerns.
“We know that the use of these devices is incredibly gratifying to young children and can lead to compulsive use,” said Christakis. “It activates the dopamine reward reflex. For young children who from the day they are born trying to figure out causality or cause and effect, the idea that they can touch a screen and make something happen is incredibly rewarding.
There isn’t anything wrong with it, it’s a fundamental and important experience, but it can be so gratifying that they can choose to do that at the expense of all other things.”
The grocery store is a great example. It is a situation where a child could be very happy with an iPad, but what’s being displaced is potentially a very interactive experience with a caregiver and child.
“In the absence of an iPad, parents typically talk to their child all the time to keep them happy while they are sitting in the cart,” said Christakis. “All of that is extremely beneficial to children’s cognitive and social development. The question is whether or not the iPad can meaningfully replace those interactions.
Read the full article about children growing up in the digital world by Kathryn Mueller at Seattle Children’s
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