‘Technology’, and ‘Technology and Children’

According to Sara Childre from the HeartMath Institute, media technology is here to stay and is an integral part of our lives. I agree with this statement, for better of worse we have adapted ourselves and our technology so that we could almost be considered symbiotic beings. That is if you believe Kevin Kelly in that technology is a self propelled living organism. (I am not sure I do believe this)

Kevin Kellys Story of Technology

1829 – First use of the word Technology

Kevin says that we as a species would never have survived without technology. If you consider a world without technology; considering technology is, a knife, a blade, a stone or a scraper.

Fire is a technology; when we learned how to harness fire we could cook and eat foods we couldn’t ordinarily eat. Kevin says that this prevented us from becoming extinct, particularly in famine times. We have evolved so that we cannot live without this technology. He also says that technology is the most dominant force in our world.

The general trends in evolutionary life are as follows:

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Kevin says that these trends are also exactly the same in technology.

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Just as there is diversity in life there is diversity in the things that we make.

Kevin believe that technology has two sides, one that wants to take and one that wants to give. Be believes that we shouldn’t be afraid to try as long as we always try to predict the outcome. I personally don’t believe in this as you cannot always predict exact outcomes and also predict posible knock-on effects (Ripple Effect).

Kelly believes that every technology is a creative force looking for the right job. He uses the example of nuclear energy fission is a bad idea for weapons but a good idea for harnessing it for sustainable renewable energy.

We are the parent of technology, it is up to us to give it a good job. Kevin says that technology gives us increased choices and possibilities, and that is why we gravitate towards it. He uses the example of people moving into cities. Whilst I think that city living does have its advantages, research led by Dr Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany suggests that it may not be so good for us. (Sick cities: why urban living can be bad for your mental health). So this gravitating towards technology without due caution and concern could potentially be bad for us individually and as a society. Kelly does say that technology had a cost but I ask, what is the extent of that cost? Where do we draw the line?

Kevin says earlier in his lecture that anthropologists know that early man spent on average 3 to 6 hours a day gathering and preparing food – Bankers hours as Kevin puts it. If technology has enriched our lives so much, why now do we seem to have less time to enjoy life instead of more?

My last points on Kevin’s lecture are two questions: Does attributing technology with a life of its own somehow remove or reduce our responsibility to the possible destruction that it could cause? Are we its creators or merely its slaves?

Will Technology Destroy Us?

World renowned Professor Stephen Hawkins believes that we need to cautious as we proceed with future technology. He claims that if we do not monitor technology particularly in regards to Artificial Intelligence that is could potentially spell the end of the human race.

“Once humans develop artificial intelligence it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution couldn’t compete and would be superseded” – Professor Stephen Hawkins on Artificial Intelligence.

Technology and Children

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Back to Sara Childre from the HeartMath institute on care2.com .  Sara talks about the concern around how current technology may be affecting our children. Sara believes that we can enjoy the advantages of both technology and the “wonders of nature”. According to Sara, the way to achieve this is for us to understand the benefits and the potential pitfalls. It is up to the adults to use moderation based on knowledge rather than fear or prejudice.

The fear comes from the amount of on-screen time that children have on a daily basis. There is a concern that technology is “replacing physical and imaginative play”.  Which may cause problems in the development of the child, particularly in regards to social and interpersonal skills. Sara also says that this could affect the child and later the adults with their ability to show empathy and compassion. Sara says that this is due to the perceived reduced ability of children to identify emotions in people. This is a skill you start to learn as a baby from reading peoples faces and body language. Also attributing, is children’s exposure to age inappropriate content and violence. This has the effect to numbing the senses to extreme situations, similar to the affect of shell shock or PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Persons with PTSD often feel chronically, emotionally numb – Human Givens Institute) This makes me wonder, what kind of a world will we live in without  these two fundamental human traits? That is a scary thought.

The statistic that Sara gives for children’s daily immersion into technology is quite sobering. From a study by Kaiser Family Foundation, “Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8 to 18 year-olds”. On average, children spend seven hours and 38 minutes engaging with entertainment technology, daily. Thats approximately 2,737.5 hours a year, which is colossal if you consider that most people sleep on average 7 hours a night, which comes to 2,555 hours a year. There is not much time left to physically interact with the world when you take away the everyday things such as eating, washing and chores.

Sara goes on to to counter all the negativity by pointing out some of the benefits of technology if it is used wisely. Technology can be a fantastic educational too, it can also empower children by giving them access to platforms such as anti bullying forums, teen political issue forums and other areas that allow them to address social issue that are applicable to their age. Sara mentions how children can feel a part of society by being able to have a voice through blogging. The can also learn to be more open and accepting from listening and reading other peoples perspectives. Online video games have a collaborative and social quality; by teaching children the importance of teamwork, friendship and loyalty. It can also teach hand-eye coordination, and logical thinking, motor-skills and creativity (e.g. MineCraft building game).

Some researchers have also said that text messaging could have a beneficial affect on literacy instead of the perceived negative impact (Coventry University). This one piece of research I am not so sure about as it was conducted on 88 children between the ages of 8 – 18. It would be interesting to compare their literacy skills when they reach the age of 18 – 25. I wonder if there is an improvement or would the level have plateaued?

There are also many inclusive design technologies that are making life interaction more equal and assessable especially for people with limiting or life changing disabilities.

Sara says that it is vital that as adults we enter into the world of technology with our children. Do not let them travers is along and unprotected. We have a duty of care and a responsibility to walk with them in the virtual sense. We must educate ourselves and our children, we must create an awareness to the potential and real pitfalls of old, new and trending technologies.

Sara give a quote by mindfulness trainer Maya Talisman Frost, that says we should create tech free zones to allow our children the opportunity to develop the ability to pay attention  and that in these zones technology takes a backseat over being in the present moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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