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Technology helping or hurting kids?

Technology helping or hurting kids?

Credit: AP

by Terri Gruca

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE


Posted on November 22, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 22 at 6:52 PM

Can technology reprogram your child’s brain? Several studies show it may be doing just that.

According to an article in the New York Times it’s in part because children’s brains are still developing.

“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

All of this may make you wonder if schools adding technology is such a good idea? Or if giving your kids free reign at home is recommended. They are the kinds of question some studies suggest we should be asking.

According to that New York Times article: Jacob L. Vigdor, an economics professor at Duke University who led some of the research, said that when adults were not supervising computer use, children “are left to their own devices, and the impetus isn’t to do homework but play around.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation found half of students from 8 to 18 are using the Internet, watching TV or using some other form of media either “most” (31 percent) or “some” (25 percent) of the time that they are doing homework. The average student, it found, spends more than 7 and a half hours a day using entertainment media but because they often multi-task or use several different platforms at once they are often packing nearly 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into that time.

The New York Times found students whose grades had suffered because of all the technology multi-tasking. Few studies have looked at whether all this consumption really does lower student grades.

But I found one. A recent study from Lock Haven, PA found that in college when a professor engaged and required students to use Twitter as part of their assignments they actually got higher grades (the median was 2.79 versus 2.28.)

The study found that if used properly social media improves student engagement and allows them to think critically.