Thanks to easy access to mobile phones and laptops, most parents have a hard time keeping their kids away from gadgets. Increasing exposure to the screen has raised concerns about how it can adversely impact the child.
Contrary to the oft-quoted studies that propose reduction in screen time, a philosophy professor has now advocated the need to expose children to video games and social media.
In a new book titled The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World, Jordan Shapiro, assistant professor, Temple University, argued that families and schools must engage in technology, including gaming, to help children keep up with the society they inhabit while preparing them for the digital future.
“Digital tools act like a bridge between individual and common experiences. They help us to mediate our relationship with the world around us. They ease the strain between inner and outer realities. They do this exceptionally well,” Shapiro was quoted by Quartz.
That said, a child’s exposure to the digital world shouldn’t be devoid of parental surveillance, and that’s a given, according to the professor. Parents have to mentor and guide their children. “Your job as a parent is not to stop unfamiliar tools from disrupting your nostalgic image of the ideal childhood…it’s to prepare your kids to live in an ethical, meaningful and fulfilled life in an ever-changing world,” he writes.
Not only this, Shapiro also doesn’t believe in limiting screen time for his kids. “Balance and boundaries no longer makes sense as the organising principle of child-rearing,” he further writes.
Studies in the past, however, have shown how screen-time can affect a child’s cognitive health. According to National Institutes of Health, as little as two hours of screen time daily can be detrimental to a child’s health, impacting his or her thinking and language skills. Again, the ABCD (for Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development) study has linked screen-time to lower scores on aptitude tests, and accelerated “cortical thinning”. It can also “rewire” the brain.
Shapiro’s idea of how the digital world can prompt a “meaningful” life also stands in sharp contrast with some, who believe social media is breeding a generation of loners. In an article, Vidushi Daga, CEO, Whizjuniors, writes, “It has made them gravitate towards becoming ‘gregarious loners’, feeling more alienated and at the risk of isolation, in a highly connected society which is ironically meant to increase sociability and engagement.”