Social Media, Gadgets and Games

Words of Wisdom from an Ancient Philosopher

Could I climb to the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim: “Fellow citizens, why do ye turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth, and take so little care of your children, to whom one day you will relinquish it all?”   Socrates

Jesus said (Matt. 18:16):

“…………..Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” 

A few short year ago, there was no such thing as FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and the various social media that have taken over the lives of many people and cell phones were a luxury. Now, many of our students carry in their pockets a very powerful tool that enables them to be in contact with the internet within seconds.

It is note-worthy that the proprietors of silicon valley and inventers of Facebook do not allow their own children to have I-Phones or I-Pads and send their children to gadget free schools.

In 2007, Gates the former CEO of Microsoft, implemented a cap on screen time when his daughter started developing an unhealthy attachment to a video game.  He also didn’t let his kids get cell phones until they turned 14. (Today the average age for a child getting their first phone is 10.)

Yet educators in the school system are escalating their use of computers as tools for teaching children without evidence to support this initiative, nor sufficient research regarding long term outcomes.

Large muscles and fine motor skills need to be developed. Four critical factors necessary to achieve healthy child development are 1.)movement 2.) touch 3.) human connection and 4.) exposure to nature.

Parents are quick to give gadgets to amuse and occupy young children – unaware that the development of their brains is being impeded, assuming that there is no danger and there is benefit.  

Rapid brain growth
Between 0 and 2 years, infant’s brains triple in size, and continue in a state of rapid development to 21 years of age (Christakis 2011). Early brain development is determined by environmental stimuli, or lack thereof. Stimulation to a developing brain caused by overexposure to technologies (cell phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been shown to be associated with executive functioning and attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate, e.g. tantrums (Small 2008, Pagini 2010).

Educators in the school system are escalating their use of computers as tools for teaching children without evidence to support this initiative, nor sufficient research regarding long term outcomes.  We DO already know that note taking is best done with paper and pencil-over typing on an Ipad or computer. Something happens in the brain.

Academic work requires sustained focus and concentration.

Impulsivity is when we act on thoughts in the short term whether or not we will benefit in the long term.

When we conclude that we absolutely need gadgets to survive, we cede control to them.

Diagnosis of ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, development delays, unintelligible speech learning difficulties, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders are associated with technology overuse, and are increasing at an alarming rate. There is now a phenomena called Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder.

Teenagers may get bored after going forty-five minutes without their cell phones to provide stimulation, but that boredom shifts to genuine anxiety if the amount of disconnected time is significantly longer.

When we are separated from our gadgets, we become disoriented and lose the sense of where and who we are.  Have you ever left home without your phone? Did you need to return to get it? Why?

Remember…..when we conclude that we absolutely need gadgets to survive, we cede control to them.

When kids have the power to choose, they don’t always choose wisely.  We must choose for them.

Studies show that the more media kids use, the lower their academic grades.

There is a growing need among us for instant gratification.  The same children who play a game for hours may experience difficulty in doing Pace work or sustaining attention during a lecture. 

Instant gratification on gadgets has destroyed or lessened the ability to sustain focus.

When children are allowed to avoid the difficult tasks of childhood and escape into video game play without limits, they are vulnerable to getting hooked.

South Korea and China have declared video game addiction their most pressing mental health problem.

Gaming is now classified as a disorder.

So what is the impact of technology on the developing child?

An increase of physical, psychological and behavior disorders that the health and education system are just beginning to detect, much less understand.

Violent video games promote aggression.  The researchers have found that people who played a violent video game for three consecutive days showed increases in aggressive behavior and hostile expectations each day they played. Meanwhile, those who played nonviolent games showed no meaningful changes in aggression or hostile expectations over that period.

Young children who are exposed to violence through TV and video games are in a high state of adrenalin and stress, as the body does not know that what they are watching is not real.

Common Sense Media founder James Steyer says, “Mobile devices are fundamentally changing how families go about their day-to-day lives.”

  • Addiction: One out of every two teens feels addicted to his or her device, and the majority of parents (59%) feel that their kids are addicted. That translates to half.
  • Frequency:72% of parents of teens and 48% of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social media messages and other notifications. 69 of parents feel their children get distracted by their devices and don’t pay attention when they are together at least a few times per week.
  • Distraction:77% of parents feel their children get distracted by their devices and don’t pay attention when they are together at least a few times per week.
  • Conflict: 1/3 of parents and teens say they argue with each other on a daily basis about device use.
  • Risky behavior: 56% of parents admit that they check their mobile devices while driving; 51% of teens witness this.

Here’s how handheld devices are impacting the emotional development of our students.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to use, understand and manage emotions in a productive, healthy way. (Daniel Goleman, PhD. Well known psychologist created the following mixed model for emotional intelligence.)

  1. Self-Awareness: Self-awareness involves knowing your own feelings. It involves knowing what your emotional triggers are and how you are going to deal with them when  they occur.
  2. Self-Management: Self-management involves keeping the emotions in check when they become disruptive. An example would be the ability to control outbursts or talk calmly with someone during a disagreement.
  3. Motivation: The majority of people are motivated by outside things like money or other luxuries. According to Goleman, emotionally intelligent people are intrinsically motivated.  They know that the outside stuff cannot provide joy and happiness, so that does not motivate them.  They are motivated for the sake of pure joy or being productive.
  4. Empathy: The first three categories deal with handling one’s own emotions, while empathy is the ability to support the emotions of someone else. It is the skill of reading another person’s emotions and responding appropriately.
  5. Social Skills: This is the ability to deal with others.  People with strong social skills can find common ground with others at work, school, or anywhere.  It is the ability to be persuasive.

The disconnection between parent and child caused by technology overuse is the most significant destructive factor ever witnessed by humankind, and will not only damage the foundation for the developing child, but also cause irreversible damage to humanity, and not just for the short term, but forever.

Chris Rowan (Occupational therapist and Child Development Expert)

Our students need a sense of purpose. This provides emotional steadiness which is important for both academic and career success. Why are you here? Just to take up space, or enjoy life?  NO! God has a plan for your life.

  1. God said (speaking to himself) let us make men in our likeness of or in ‘our’ own image Genesis 1:26
  2. People are different than the rest of creation because we have a soul – we are created in the image of God. He breathed into man the breath of life. We are different than the animals.  We have a likeness to God, thus we have a purpose……not just to live but to reflect our creator.

We must teach our students to seek God’s purpose for their lives ……and that whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Virtue (by definition is) moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.

The psalmist says: Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart (Psa 139:1-13) 

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

Warning signs that a child is spending too much time using any form of electronic media.

  • Loses track of time when using electronic devices
  • Becomes agitated when interrupted
  • Prefers to spend time using electronics rather than being with friends or family in person
  • Does not follow time limits
  • Forms relationships with people online.
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Seems restless when not using a device and preoccupied with getting back on.
  • Avoids homework and chores because of spending too much time with electronics
  • Sneaks on a device when no one is around and lies about it.

Food for thought: Form a policy regarding the possession and use of gadgets at your school.

Should you consider making your school a gadget free zone?

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