Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Internet and Smartphones ARE Having a Bad Effect on Your Kids' Development -- How Can They Not?

My comment to another comment in reaction to an article: 'Tech is Killing Childhood -- Time spent on gadgets could be hampering kids' ability to connect to each other and the "real" world' by Catherine Steiner-Adair on Salon.com:
I lean toward your point of view, Paul, but there is something else going on here that the author is right in bringing up. My issue with all the new tech we are unquestioningly immersing kids in is simple -- while human beings are incredibly adaptable, we evolved to be able to cope with certain things in our natural environment. At what point as we progress up the steep innovation curve we are on (skyrocketing vs. the first 7 million years of our evolution, or even vs. the past 7 thousand since our tribes began living in villages and developed a way to record and pass along knowledge) do we have to stop and question what the long term effect of radical social change (exposure to hard core porn and a significant decline in face to face social interaction) will have on childhood development?
Mine is not a question of opinions, but one of empirical evidence we do not have and are not studying at the moment. Like the increasing prevalence of allergies due to lack of exposure to the natural environment, long term negative effects are gradual in building up and tough to identify at first (using anti-bacterial soap to 'protect' our kids seems innocuous and intuitive). 
I don't think what is happening today globally with kids being not just exposed to highly addictive devices/tech/content at an early age, but sent to bed with the devices and 'attached' to them every waking moment, is innocuous. It can't be. Young brains are laying down neural pathways they'll use for the rest of their lives that are environment-dependent.
We know, without debate, that childhood trauma has a permanent effect on emotions. My nephew got dared by his friends to watch highly graphic, bizarre sexual video (including snuff) starting at age 9 or 10 and he still talks about the nightmares. And it was NOT just him, ALL of kids that age are exploring and experimenting and the Internet is free and instantly accessible (and the shocking stuff gets reveal in mere seconds in video clips).
Here's my take on just one aspect of it from a post of mine titled "Your Teens Have Grown Up Watching Hard-Core Porn, What Have You Been Doing to Balance Out That Influence?"

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