Posted by: jbeanblossom | November 9, 2015

What we see and what we know

People see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe.

My preschooler’s teacher said the four letters that no parent wants to hear: ADHD.

“He’s four.” My quick reply exposes my feelings on the matter.

She agrees that it’s too early to tell, but wants my wife and I to be aware.

This awareness has morphed into a rabbit-hole of research, including the effects of technology and media consumption on young brains.

Carr’s third chapter of The Shallows explores the evolution of human abstract thinking and its harmful intersection with media consumption. The general stages of child cognitive development is illustrated (no pun intended) in how a child draws a picture of their physical surroundings: “…we progress from drawing what we see to drawing what we know.”

Carr believes that constant exposure to realized imagery and turnkey artistic expression interrupts this development. ABC News’ story aligns with Carr on a number of levels.

I’m not convinced. The experiment where kids’ communication is observed with/without media devices seems superficial. When a child is using a tablet, their observed communication with others is decreased, and without, it increases. Of course that’s the result. Today’s form of media consumption is designed for the user to be in the driver’s seat.

Before we see hard evidence and research on how little brains are impacted by long-term exposure to technology and media devices, I know that my question as a parent should be, how do I encourage healthy consumption habits and make communication happen?


  1. Jbeanblossom, I’m glad you posted this because I don’t think we’ve really talked about how media consumption is affecting children. And I think it’s especially great to have input from parents like yourself, and you’ve asked a great question. I image that my grandparents probably wondered the same thing with the introduction of color television into American homes during the late 1950s and 1960s. I’m sure the same thoughts struck my parents with the introduction of Sega, and Gameboy during mine and my brother’s early childhood, and adolecence.

    I guess my point is that generations have had to grapple with the influence of consumption for decades, and most of us have turned out “happy and healthy.” And perhaps that’s due to a balance that parents try to maintain despite the paradox of media devices being both helpful and worrisome to parents. The little girl in the ABC piece that took up sowing, for example, probably will still continue to have an interest and pursue it if her parents encourage her to do so. It seems that they are since they let her use sophisticated machinery. Just like my mom got me the Easy Bake Oven I just had to have, and my dad waited in line with me at midnight to get the fourth Harry Potter book.

    Anecdotal evidence isn’t general fact, but I think it’s safe to say that most parents, like my own, aren’t letting their kids use devices at every waking moment as the ABC piece seems to show. Parents are engaging kids in other ways, and when they are, siblings or friends at school or other adults like teachers are. This all, I think, allows for healthy consumption, and a balance that benefits kids just as it has since the 1950s.

  2. Interesting that this segment opens with the scene behind the studio on Times Square!! No tech distraction on the streets of New York City. Riiiiight.

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