Will the debate over technology and children’s development end?
By Tracy Gladman, Director, Worrinots
When we look at childhood development over the years, nothing has really changed. The best known theorists date back to the early 20th century and are still the trusted go to when we want to discuss how children develop. But is it still relevant today?
It’s certainly an interesting time to be a child of the 21st century generation, being brought up with technology at a young age, and grasping the concept of it early too. The debate about whether children’s development is affected by the use of technology has only really just begun, maybe like many people you too have formed an early opinion of this, even though there is relatively little research to back up unfounded theories.
You may not be as fascinated by childhood development as I am but, you might have engaged with the latest BBC programme ‘Babies: Their Wonderful World.’ Dr Tim Smith engages children with Tablet devices, he is currently undertaking research called the TABLET project. Although many individuals and experts believe such devices have a negative impact on children’s development, these are only theories, no empirical research to support these theories has been carried out, until Dr Tim Smith has started his project.
Until an evidence based project has been completed, parents/carers, policymakers, scientists, teachers and even tech companies will continue to form their own theories towards devices and children’s behaviour and development. However, the first episode of the new series confirms my theory towards technology being beneficial towards children’s development, especially when used with parents rather than in isolation whilst speech is developing. Much like the idea of the Worri-tips in our app.
Child development and technology aside, there is also much debate around well-being and technology, again all theoretical. I’ve recently connected with some interesting young people through social networking, there’s a direct benefit of tech for a start. Both the young lads are campaigning to get positive messages out to young males around the subject of well-being, speaking out and being positive. Interesting that they are using the very platform some suggest causes the very issues they are campaigning for.
One of the young lads I connected with, Josh Quigley from Scotland, had an interesting outlook on the impact of technology and male well-being, there is and has been, much debate about it being negative. However Josh spends a lot of his time travelling to colleges and talking to students about how technology is a great tool. It was quite refreshing hearing a youngster suggesting, “Just like a prescription drug, it comes down to dosage, if you take too much it can be damaging.”
Every day in the press there is some form of negative article around child well-being, suicide rates being high and increasing, depression and body angst caused by social media and internet use, the list is endless. Yet where are we encouraging children and young people to seek help? Of course, the internet. I’m sure many parents consult mum’s groups or websites for advice on childhood issues, illnesses, conditions, even just to vent off. I know I’ve read many of those.
I’m sure even after the project by Dr Tim Smith has been completed the debate around children and technology will continue for many years regardless of his findings. No matter what our opinion is of technology, and whether we like it or not, it’s here to stay. At Worrinots, we are firm believers that with the right education and good quality information for viewing, there should be no concerns with using technology.
We hope that, with the positive work being carried out by tech companies and the positive messaging being put out, this generation of youngsters will be the first to be able to grow into adults where they are less worried about the negative impact of tech, embrace it and know how to use it safely.