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How has technology affected the social development of children? A general question !

Hey Rossland & Co.

In support of a youth in our community, who is doing research for a school project, I am sending out this public forum style question, looking for any range of answers! 

How has technology affected the social development of children? 

Participate only if you wish!  Please be thoughtful, critical, honest, and mindful!  Looking for all answers, positive and negative!  Just please be respectful. The Unit of study is looking at the impact of technology in general, and its impact on society!   :)

Thanks so much in advance! 

Hey Jigsandjude... I've been part of some research projects on this, speak on it every now and again, and work with it as a mental health professional. I'm always happy to support learning. If the youth would like they are welcome to get in touch... If they are into it they can just text me, Sean, @ 2five0 9two1-five516 and I'm happy to provide anything they think might be helpful. 

Thanks SLars!  
I have passed on your message to my student!!!  :)

I really appreciate it! 
I am sure you'll hear from her in the next day or 2! 

We are allowing technology to replace critical thinking.  A child's mind is so vulnerable. Here is informative short video.



That video is opinionated, but I didn't get a ton of information out of it. I haven't looked at the research, but I'm sure that there's a bunch being done right now. The social world of adolescents now occurring predominantly online instead of in-person is fascinating, I would love to hear what you find out.

When there is a big change like that in a short period of time, we usually assume that it will have a huge effect. Also, that the effect will be bad. Those are our two initial assumptions. It's worth approaching the question with an open mind, though. The video above pointed out an association between search engine use and decreased critical thinking. They did not provide a reference and I could not find the study, but technology negatively affecting the human brain is not new: Socrates was very concerned about literacy worsening people's memory Since then, microwaves and cell phones were to be our doom, and yet here we are still trucking. And, as it turns out, literacy improves most brain functions! I believe that Socrates was right about certain memory tasks, though.

So without getting carried away with our first emotional response, what is the effect of technology? For the first time in human history, preschoolers are able to control the stimulation they receive from their environment when watching YouTube Kids on parents' tablets. For the past couple of million years, they had to wait for relatives or the trees or whatever, to provide stimulation. Suddenly in less than the blink of a geological eye, they play videos that trigger the pleasure centres of their brain (learning triggers feel-good hormones), and they watch these videos over and over again. More times than any parent in the history of humanity ever had the patience to read a bedtime story. What is the impact? I've got to find that research study, maybe they've published by now, but their initial hypothesis was that it could have a beneficial effect.

The reason kids crave that repetition is because there's a lot of input in a story, more than they can take in, so each time they see it, they get something new out of it, new learning, new pleasure. But they're not so overwhelmed by the quantity of "new" that they're unable to develop new brain pathways (adult conversation, adult TV). And they're not understimulated (watching trees). Maybe they're fueling their brains with the exact balance of stimulation and repetition to trigger more efficient learning and even brain development! Or maybe it's bad. I don't know.

The social question is very interesting in the teenage and adolescent age group. I don't know anything about it but would love to learn more. One thing's for sure, critical thinking skills are the single most essential tool that we can arm the next generation with. Armed with that and a love for learning, my guess is that they should benefit from technology.

If you give a child a calculator as a tool to solve a math problem, you have provided them with a very powerful tool...but you have also restricted their creative thought and problem solving to the 12 buttons in front of them.  We can generate informative educational software that can teach kids all about the biodiversity of plant and animal species that live in a wetlands...but a child is more likely to achieve a deeper learning experience by walking through a swamp. Getting their ankles covered in mud and smelling the air. Technology has an infitinite ability to better us a society, but there are somethings it cannot replace.   From a social perspective, I think the biggest challenge is that we now have generations that are growing up online, living and working amongst generations that did not.  Older generations look at kids glued to their phones and dismiss the behavoir as anti social, yet that individual on their phone may be participating in social activities with people thousands of kiometres away.

I agree with you that the video was opinionated. However, soft science in general is based upon just that, an opinion, or a thesis. The social sciences deals with intangibles such as behaviors, interactions, thoughts, and feelings. Because of the nature of living beings, it is almost impossible to recreate a soft science experiment similiar to what is necessary for hard science.

It may be difficult to isolate all the variables that can influence an outcome when dealing with people. Controlling the variable may even alter the results. A well known method used for consensus decsion making. eg. Transforming hard science into soft science.

As you also noted, this is certainly not a new subject for analysis. If you would like to learn more from a well respected professional, Niel Postman. I recommend reading a few of his books. His thesis is using a much larger context than normally avaialible in a 15 minute video. This is a complex subject to say the least.

Technopoly (1992)

The Disapearance of Childhood (1984)

We are Amusing Ourselves to Death. (1985)

They may also be available at the Gold Rush Bookstore.
Neil Postman has delivered many very informative and relatively short speeches. Several are likely still available online.


When a child or youth doesn't make eye contact or use good grammar or manners while engaging in human interactions I tend to not blame technology or social media but the parents.

Lead by example.



When a child or youth doesn't make eye contact, use good grammar or manners while engaging in human interactions; I tend to not blame technology or social media but the parents.

Lead by example.

If you delete the first conjunction (or) and replace it with a comma and add a semicolon after 'human interactions' to break up the two clauses, then grammatically that's more correct. Glass houses etc.

touche. Thanks for putting me in my place.  

You are so smart


Teaching your children to be kind, patient and understanding can also be by example.

Teaching them to criticize, judge and chastise can also be done by example.

Touché has an acute accent on the e. Sorry.