My mother was born in 1922. She went to school with a slate and a pencil. That is all they had to write on. No exercise books.
When I went to school, there was no such things as mobile phones, computers (really showing my age now) but it really wasn’t that long ago.
Now, 5 year olds have mobile phones and the whole world of technology is never far from their hands.
Technology is a wonderful thing. It has brought information to us that we would never have been able to experience but it also has downsides.
Too much technology for children is not good. When it becomes a babysitting tool and children play hours of video games, they lose the ability for creative thinking and imaginative play.
I see children come through my studio and when we do imaginative play, they struggle. For example, we have a sequence where we pretend we are on a boat. We use a singing game where I ask the children what they can see through their pretend binoculars and they sing back to me what they see. I have had children with wonderful imaginations and we see mermaids, crocodiles, even pirates with ships of treasure. With some children though, they will look at me blankly and have no idea how to imagine and expand their creativity through imaginative play.
Psychologists are now realizing that technology is having an impact on the way children think. Thinking is the ability to reflect, reason and draw conclusions based on our experiences. When children play too many video games, they don’t have to practice these skills.
Because children are being exposed at such an early age when their brains are still developing, frequent exposure is actually wiring the brain in very different ways to previous generations.
Attention Is The Gateway to Thinking
Attention is essential for thinking to happen. Without it, all the other aspects of thinking are inhibited or may not occur. These include:
- problem solving
- decision making
In my Mother’s time and in my time, we did a lot of reading. Reading requires and develops sustained attention, reasoning and memory. With reading you are getting 1 source of information and it requires the reader to narrowly focus, use their imagination and memory. The pace that the information came in was completely controlled by the reader.
Now, with technology, there is large amounts of information coming rapidly, the user not having any control over the speed at which the information hits and only able to concentrate on each thing fleetingly. It wires the brain in a completely different way.
I have always loved paper books. I do have Kindle on my phone and for ease a lot of books are stored in digital format, but I have always preferred paper over digital, especially when reading to and with children. There is a case for that now as studies have shown that people reading uninterrupted text draw faster conclusions and have better understanding and recall than those reading texts filled with hyperlinks and media.
Reading develops reflection, critical thinking, problem solving, and vocabulary better than visual media.
5 Things To Do With Children To Promote
Attention and Critical Thinking:
- Limit screen time. That includes TV, tablets, phones, games, computers. I am not saying cut them out altogether but they should not make up the bulk of play time.
- Read together. This is something we do in our everyday routines in the classroom with children but I want you to really understand the importance of it. Some of the children in our care may not get reading time outside the time they spend with us. They may spend their time on electronic devices and the time with us is the only time they have to cultivate attention and critical thinking. T
- Do an activity that is creative. Whether it be imaginative play, dancing around the lounge room, creating an art masterpiece with shaving cream and color or drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, put as many creative experiences into your daily routine as you can get.
- Clean the classroom together. I know that sound like work, but while that is happening, there is a lot of categorising and sorting going on. Blocks, puzzles with pieces that match, toys in the toy box etc. This is all practice for the brain that doesn’t occur during screen time.
- Write a story together. If the children are too young to actually write, you do the writing, they do the telling. If you have babies in your care, create a story book with photos of their family and tell a story to them, or take photos and tell the story of what they do in your centre. Writing and storytelling provides an opportunity for the brain to clarify explanations and work in sequences.
All these things develop better brain and problem solving skills than visual media outlets and are essential to prepare children for the art of literature in school