Sunday, 26 March 2017

Generation iKids

Here are extracts from an article which was featured in the complimentary magazine of The Times (25.03.2017).  Written by Ben Machell, it is titled 'Addicted! Generation iKids'
The world to a baby is pretty unpredictable, but these devices are so well crafted and intuitive that they deliver something to a baby that is reasonably predictable. It makes them feel like they have command over an environment that they generally don't have much control over... (emphasis added) (p. 22)
Adam Alter, a psychologist:
The problem with modern technology, he says, is not that it changes so quickly, but rather that it changes just slowly enough for us to not really notice the effect it's having (p. 23).  
Technology today has widened the possibility of 'probability'. Earlier, one had to be at home, in front of a TV set to watch a cartoon. Not anymore.  Moreover there were barriers built into the TV viewing. The cartoon programmes were interspersed with news, "stopping rules".
Only, these stopping rules are being deliberately, systematically destroyed by Zuckerberg and friends. Everything is now designed to be endless... a sort of auto-binge option that prevents you from having to make the decision to watch another (p. 23). 
Alter adds
The biggest issue with interaction is that you get feedback. And feedback is the engine of addiction.... if you have a device that gives them instant feedback all the time, that means they don't have to try very hard to get feedback from the world (p. 23).  
Perhaps the most serious danger:
...phones and tablets allow children to pass the time in a kind of mental holding pattern: not bored, but not engaged with the world around them either (p. 23).  
The article rightly places the onus of the responsibility on the parents.  If parents are all the time facing the phone, they're not going to be far behind.  One of the serious suggestions of the psychologists: avoid using phones and digital devices when with children.  The main reason: they deserve your time and full attention.  Do not keep yourselves or them distracted with phones and tablets!

The article also lists the opposing view, namely that research shows not much of a damage is done to the child's learning skill or mental functioning.  However, I personally see the sacrifice of the actual world for a virtual world, a huge threat to human civilization. 

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