Today, a debate emerged in my inbox.
I’d sent round a video to the whole office I’d found referenced in an article in the Evening Standard by Gavanndra Hodge. Its genuinely rare that something I read in one of London’s numerous free papers draws in enough of my attention to inspire me to pass it along, but I guess the topic stood out to me.
It looked at the way in which the forthcoming generation are growing up in a world of “iScreens”. It referenced this video posted to YouTube titled “A magazine is an iPad that doesn’t work”. It shows an infant using a magazine in contrast to an iPad and how the touch gestures used on iOS devices have become a more familiar experience than that of her interaction with conventional print media. The end frame of the video claims that its the industry and technology’s fault for creating a situation in which children are adapting to technology at an earlier age than ever, and many people are unhappy about this change. A myriad of viewpoints arise when discussing this topic around the office, and in fact the rest of the world, as a small amount of online research will show you.
An immediate response from many is that these changes are not out of our control and something that is being forced upon our children, and is actually something we ourselves should be taking responsibility for. A child doesn’t miraculously come to own a tablet. Although I’m sure there are special cases, I think it rare that a child of 18 months has enough pocket money for a £300 mobile device. Parents are providing their children with this facility. It’s my view that if they feel there’s a problem, simply stop allowing them access.
Most of us talking about all this are members of the so-called MTV generation. Growing up, our lives were saturated by television, advertising and the rise of the Internet. I think given the number of scientific and technological breakthroughs in our time there’s some justification to claim that we’ve done pretty well considering our supposedly marred upbringings. Is this whole discussion simply a fuss over nothing? After all, who really likes change? Most of us would probably agree that initially, most of the ways in which our lives have been forcibly altered would have had negative views initially, and for the most part everything seems to have worked out okay so far.
One viewpoint consistently appearing is that this change is preventing the physical and mental development in different ways from the supposed educational benefits of children using touch screen devices. Evidence is appearing from left right and centre that overwhelming levels of interaction with the digital world at a young age can have a detrimental affect on a number things within a child’s development. From sub-standard motor skills and 3D perception and understanding, all the way through to links to depression. Some blame the parents directly, saying that technology is being used as a get out clause. Palming their children’s craves for attention off with a bright, glossy, exciting touch screen; instead of supplying them with the affection and simple human interaction they really desire and possibly, need.