Should there be limits on students’ screen time?
The brain is remarkable, not least for the way it can change and adapt under certain conditions. This is called neuro-plasticity. And it’s explored in Norman Doidge’s extraordinary book, The Brain that Changes Itself.
Given the capacity to adapt, it seems inevitable that a powerful, immersive stimulus like ‘screen time’ will be impacting the human brain in significant ways. But who’s to say this must be a negative thing.
The point about structural or functional change as Doidge describes is that adaptions generally tend to the positive. Moreover, as Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker recently noted, new forms of media have always caused moral panics: “Yes, every time we learn a fact or skill the wiring of the brain changes; it’s not as if the information is stored in the pancreas. But the existence of neural plasticity does not mean the brain is a blob of clay pounded into shape by experience…”
Presumably cognitive neuroscience and brain imaging will help us to better understand the impact of ‘screen time’ on the developing brain. Meantime, do you have a view?
In their Point/Counterpoint series of discussions, ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is calling for arguments on both sides of the question, ‘should there be limits on students’ screen time?’ Tell us what you think, or post directly to ISTE.
@ ISTE, posted by Andra Brichacek: Today’s students are called ‘digital natives’ for a reason. For most of their lives, they have been surrounded by screens at home, at school, and even in their pockets all day, every day. The engaged learning experiences those technologies provide will likely be invaluable in their futures, when they are part of the digital-age workforce. But critics have pointed to a number of possible negative side effects to media use, including increased aggression, vision problems, obesity and diabetes, vitamin D deficiency, and attention-deficit disorder. Some even argue that technology use from a young age affects children’s brain development. But is this change damaging or adaptive? Should we restrict their technology use or encourage more of it?