Hello friends, I would like to start today’s talk with a simple question-
How many of you have children who can play games on the IPad to perfection and can work your mobile phone with great dexterity? May I have a show of hands?
Quite a number!
How many of you remember your friends’ phone numbers without having to look at your phone? I don’t remember numbers of my friends from last 10 years. It’s not my age. Because, I still remember telephone numbers, of some of my friends, from 1980s.
Now isn’t the Google map so with idiot proof that you do not have to take instructions and directions any more? But what happens when there is an unexpected roadwork
Do you also get this feeling of panic when you lose your phone and you feel as if you have lost a limb?– are you completely lost, till the new phone is active?
Well, these amazingly simple solutions of technology have been great for us as we are users .We have been exposed to traditional forms of learning? but have our children been exposed to them as well?
Our children have been born in the cyber age and I sometimes think that they are born with a natural flair for technology.But introduction of technology at a very young age can work backwards for our children because at the click of a button they are able to win a game and it is instant gratification for them.
The bright colors dazzle their eyes and they get used to reactive screens which also gives them the buzz of excitement and instant achievement.
What we do not realize is that this constant feeling of gratification and the thrill of winning also triggers the release of the chemical dopamine which causes similar symptoms as substance abuse and before we know it they are addicted to games.
In fact, Dr. Gregory West alleges that a lot of action video games can reduce the efficiency of the hippocampus area of the brain which can lead to memory deficits, learning problems and even emotional disorders like depression.
While we agree that using gaming technology is lots of fun for our kids, we also have to face the fact that the children start displaying a dependency on the screen games and there is many a tantrum over the withdrawal of the device and the child loses interest in other activities and exhibits stress and anxiety at the thought of doing day-to-day activities like simple reading and writing.
Children need to develop ALL of their faculties & senses and there has to be a balance. What is an ideal state for a child? That he is peaceful , happy and listens to us and behaves well.
Now for this ideal state, the children need a combination of simple and structured instruction and some healthy exposure to fresh air, sunshine and uncomplicated games like kicking a football, skipping a rope, doing handwork like painting or play-do activities. When is the last time we heard the simple chirping of a bird or saw the stars together with our kids?
As per the experts, the mind-body connection is of paramount importance. When we do simple everyday activity like just playing or doing handwork or simple reading our kinesthetic memory, which is a powerful means of learning and memorizing also kicks in and we learn better. All our senses get engaged in the process of learning.
Take the simple skill of reading for a child. Step by step we teach them the alphabet, its sound and then its connection to the word. We make them play with blocks, we give them worksheets and teach them the sounds and the process of reading becomes painless and a pleasure for the child.
Compare it to a child who is spending at least 2 hours watching TV and another hour playing games at home. For starters, he is starting his life in the most sedentary fashion, which leads to poor muscle tone and future type 2 Diabetes. He also cannot pay attention in school, as the school is not compliant with the visual overload that the child is receiving at home. The result is a frustrated child who is unable to focus on simple activities, as he has no patience at all
It sounds like a simple activity. But more and more children are showing up with reading and spelling difficulties and I feel that most of them are being overloaded with visual inputs from either the TV or the video games they are playing. Ten years ago, the term ADD (attention Deficit disorder) was not often heard of. But today it is a common malady that hits our kids.
At my center – The Learning Arc, I meet anxious parents who come to us in panic as their school informs them that the child is unable to read and write well or sometimes-even focus. They are unable to follow multiple instructions in a classroom. Upon detailed questioning we often find that the child is either watching too much TV or playing with their parents’ mobiles.
Learning to learn is an activity that must be taught to children. Only then can they learn, as most young kids are not doing multi-sensory activities.
So what can we do for our kids? Give them very limited exposure to TV. Their mobile phone exposure should also be contained. More time should be spent in going to the park, playing board games with them and reading with them. The children should be able to focus on problem solving and critical thinking skills. Otherwise, they will become as mechanical and unemotional as the machines they are using.