Sunday, 9 April 2006

R Kidz 2 Wired 4 Their Own Good

"They're e-mailing, IMing and downloading while writing the history essay. What is all that digital juggling doing to kids' brains and their family life?"

The latest cover story in TIME is taking yet another look at our wired generation dubbing them GenM. I guess M stands for Multi-tasking ? They explore family life where everyone (including Mum & Dad) are connected to their gadgets & disengaged from each other for longer periods of time. They also challenge the idea of multi-tasking as being able to do things simultaneously when in fact the thinking processes are actually sequential - switching frequently (toggling) attention from one task back to another. Not the best thinking strategy for learning new tasks that require sustained periods of concentration or for taking the time for reflection. The article is positive in children's ability to manipulate information especially visual information and the social connectedness being wired brings but it asks us to bring back a balance of time spent 'sucking screen' to time doing regular face to face stuff with our family and friends. An interesting viewpoint from Steven Johnson in this issue too (have to subscribe to read it though) 'Don't Fear the Digital' - he makes a great analogy between learning the skills of handwriting & those of keyboarding. The keyboard gives you the power to connect with a much wider audience and to hone your writing skills in ways that pen and paper do not. He also advocates digital vs real-life balance and comments on the importance for kids to get outside & kick a ball around too ... common sense really - Marc Prensky said the same thing to me too.
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