Charity chief warns of “potential threats” of new technology on children’s brains

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A CHILDREN’S charity chief is warning parents of the “potential threats” of new technology on children’s brains.

Jackie Brock, head of Children in Scotland, is calling for a major public awareness campaign following warnings from a neuroscientist.

Renowned Oxford professor Susan Greenfield last week claimed that the internet, video games and social media could endanger children’s development and result in a dangerous “mind change”.

She said that the influx of tech into children’s lives could lead to an “unprecedented” change – leaving them more reckless, lacking in empathy and with short attention spans.

It could also leave them with a constant need for feedback, a “dodgy” sense of identity and displaying low-grade aggression, she warned.

Ms Brock said: “We are concerned when children don’t have access to things like iPads and broadband because we recognise they are going to need these skills.

Overuse of computers could be feeding Asperger-like behaviour
Overuse of computers could be feeding Asperger-like behaviour

 

“But it seems clear we are not recognising the potential threats.

“We need a campaign that makes it clear here needs to be a balance between helping children make full use of the possibilities of technology but also remembering that children need to have socialisation.

“This issue is just as important as messages about reading to your child every night.”

And parents should also be warned that the same advice affects them, she said, recommending that parents also put down their phones to engage with their children more regularly.

Prof Greenfield has also warned that the human brain could adapt to the overuse of screen technologies in dangerous ways.

She claimed that whilst technology could lead to a generation of children with higher IQs and the capacity to process information efficiently, there was also a link between “autistic-type behaviour and the screen.”

Violent video games could also lead to greater levels of aggression, whilst social media could impede on their ability to read body language, she said.

Such negative effects should be remedied with reading, outdoor activities and an emphasis on creativity and understanding over processing information.

She also hit out at the provision of iPads in schools, saying the cash would have been better spent on teachers.

Prof Greenfield’s views have caused controversy in the past, with some claiming that her views are “superficially appealing” without any “technical evidence.”

But Suzanne Zeedyk, a senior lecturer in developmental psychology at the University of Dundee, spoke in support of Prof Greenfield’s claims at the conference.

She said that Prof Greenfield was “asking important questions about the way we are all living today and the extent to which that might change our brains.”

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