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07-07-2012, 08:10 AM

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh’s life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer?

By all rights, Vishal, a bright 17-year-old, should already have finished the book, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle,” his summer reading assignment. But he has managed 43 pages in two months.

He typically favors Facebook, YouTube and making digital videos. That is the case this August afternoon. Bypassing Vonnegut, he clicks over to YouTube, meaning that tomorrow he will enter his senior year of high school hoping to see an improvement in his grades, but without having completed his only summer homework.

On YouTube, “you can get a whole story in six minutes,” he explains. “A book takes so long. I prefer the immediate gratification.”

Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.

“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

But even as some parents and educators express unease about students’ digital diets, they are intensifying efforts to use technology in the classroom, seeing it as a way to connect with students and give them essential skills. Across the country, schools are equipping themselves with computers, Internet access and mobile devices so they can teach on the students’ technological territory.

It is a tension on vivid display at Vishal’s school, Woodside High School, on a sprawling campus set against the forested hills of Silicon Valley. Here, as elsewhere, it is not uncommon for students to send hundreds of text messages a day or spend hours playing video games, and virtually everyone is on Facebook.

The principal, David Reilly, 37, a former musician who says he sympathizes when young people feel disenfranchised, is determined to engage these 21st-century students. He has asked teachers to build Web sites to communicate with students, introduced popular classes on using digital tools to record music, secured funding for iPads to teach Mandarin and obtained $3 million in grants for a multimedia center.

He pushed first period back an hour, to 9 a.m., because students were showing up bleary-eyed, at least in part because they were up late on their computers. Unchecked use of digital devices, he says, can create a culture in which students are addicted to the virtual world and lost in it.

“I am trying to take back their attention from their BlackBerrys and video games,” he says. “To a degree, I’m using technology to do it.”

The same tension surfaces in Vishal, whose ability to be distracted by computers is rivaled by his proficiency with them. At the beginning of his junior year, he discovered a passion for filmmaking and made a name for himself among friends and teachers with his storytelling in videos made with digital cameras and editing software.

He acts as his family’s tech-support expert, helping his father, Satendra, a lab manager, retrieve lost documents on the computer, and his mother, Indra, a security manager at the San Francisco airport, build her own Web site.

But he also plays video games 10 hours a week. He regularly sends Facebook status updates at 2 a.m., even on school nights, and has such a reputation for distributing links to videos that his best friend calls him a “YouTube bully.”

Several teachers call Vishal one of their brightest students, and they wonder why things are not adding up. Last semester, his grade point average was 2.3 after a D-plus in English and an F in Algebra II. He got an A in film critique.

“He’s a kid caught between two worlds,” said Mr. Reilly — one that is virtual and one with real-life demands.

Vishal, like his mother, says he lacks the self-control to favor schoolwork over the computer. She sat him down a few weeks before school started and told him that, while she respected his passion for film and his technical skills, he had to use them productively.

“This is the year,” she says she told him. “This is your senior year and you can’t afford not to focus.”

It was not always this way. As a child, Vishal had a tendency to procrastinate, but nothing like this. Something changed him.

Growing Up With Gadgets

When he was 3, Vishal moved with his parents and older brother to their current home, a three-bedroom house in the working-class section of Redwood City, a suburb in Silicon Valley that is more diverse than some of its elite neighbors.

Thin and quiet with a shy smile, Vishal passed the admissions test for a prestigious public elementary and middle school. Until sixth grade, he focused on homework, regularly going to the house of a good friend to study with him.

But Vishal and his family say two things changed around the seventh grade: his mother went back to work, and he got a computer. He became increasingly engrossed in games and surfing the Internet, finding an easy outlet for what he describes as an inclination to procrastinate.

“I realized there were choices,” Vishal recalls. “Homework wasn’t the only option.”

Several recent studies show that young people tend to use home computers for entertainment, not learning, and that this can hurt school performance, particularly in low-income families.

Jacob L. Vigdor, an economics professor at Duke University who led some of the research, said that when adults were not supervising computer use, children “are left to their own devices, and the impetus isn’t to do homework but play around.”

Research also shows that students often juggle homework and entertainment. The Kaiser Family Foundation found earlier this year that half of students from 8 to 18 are using the Internet, watching TV or using some other form of media either “most” (31 percent) or “some” (25 percent) of the time that they are doing homework.

At Woodside, as elsewhere, students’ use of technology is not uniform. Mr. Reilly, the principal, says their choices tend to reflect their personalities. Social butterflies tend to be heavy texters and Facebook users. Students who are less social might escape into games, while drifters or those prone to procrastination, like Vishal, might surf the Web or watch videos.

The technology has created on campuses a new set of social types — not the thespian and the jock but the texter and gamer, Facebook addict and YouTube potato.

“The technology amplifies whoever you are,” Mr. Reilly says.

For some, the amplification is intense. Allison Miller, 14, sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month, her fingers clicking at a blistering pace as she carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time. She texts between classes, at the moment soccer practice ends, while being driven to and from school and, often, while studying.

Most of the exchanges are little more than quick greetings, but they can get more in-depth, like “if someone tells you about a drama going on with someone,” Allison said. “I can text one person while talking on the phone to someone else.”

But this proficiency comes at a cost: she blames multitasking for the three B’s on her recent progress report.

“I’ll be reading a book for homework and I’ll get a text message and pause my reading and put down the book, pick up the phone to reply to the text message, and then 20 minutes later realize, ‘Oh, I forgot to do my homework.’ ”

Some shyer students do not socialize through technology — they recede into it. Ramon Ochoa-Lopez, 14, an introvert, plays six hours of video games on weekdays and more on weekends, leaving homework to be done in the bathroom before school.

Escaping into games can also salve teenagers’ age-old desire for some control in their chaotic lives. “It’s a way for me to separate myself,” Ramon says. “If there’s an argument between my mom and one of my brothers, I’ll just go to my room and start playing video games and escape.”

With powerful new cellphones, the interactive experience can go everywhere. Between classes at Woodside or at lunch, when use of personal devices is permitted, students gather in clusters, sometimes chatting face to face, sometimes half-involved in a conversation while texting someone across the teeming quad. Others sit alone, watching a video, listening to music or updating Facebook.

Students say that their parents, worried about the distractions, try to police computer time, but that monitoring the use of cellphones is difficult. Parents may also want to be able to call their children at any time, so taking the phone away is not always an option.

Other parents wholly embrace computer use, even when it has no obvious educational benefit.

“If you’re not on top of technology, you’re not going to be on top of the world,” said John McMullen, 56, a retired criminal investigator whose son, Sean, is one of five friends in the group Vishal joins for lunch each day.

Sean’s favorite medium is video games; he plays for four hours after school and twice that on weekends. He was playing more but found his habit pulling his grade point average below 3.2, the point at which he felt comfortable. He says he sometimes wishes that his parents would force him to quit playing and study, because he finds it hard to quit when given the choice. Still, he says, video games are not responsible for his lack of focus, asserting that in another era he would have been distracted by TV or something else.

“Video games don’t make the hole; they fill it,” says Sean, sitting at a picnic table in the quad, where he is surrounded by a multimillion-dollar view: on the nearby hills are the evergreens that tower above the affluent neighborhoods populated by Internet tycoons. Sean, a senior, concedes that video games take a physical toll: “I haven’t done exercise since my sophomore year. But that doesn’t seem like a big deal. I still look the same.”

Sam Crocker, Vishal’s closest friend, who has straight A’s but lower SAT scores than he would like, blames the Internet’s distractions for his inability to finish either of his two summer reading books.

“I know I can read a book, but then I’m up and checking Facebook,” he says, adding: “Facebook is amazing because it feels like you’re doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway.”

He concludes: “My attention span is getting worse.”

The Lure of Distraction

Some neuroscientists have been studying people like Sam and Vishal. They have begun to understand what happens to the brains of young people who are constantly online and in touch.

In an experiment at the German Sport University in Cologne in 2007, boys from 12 to 14 spent an hour each night playing video games after they finished homework.

On alternate nights, the boys spent an hour watching an exciting movie, like “Harry Potter” or “Star Trek,” rather than playing video games. That allowed the researchers to compare the effect of video games and TV.

The researchers looked at how the use of these media affected the boys’ brainwave patterns while sleeping and their ability to remember their homework in the subsequent days. They found that playing video games led to markedly lower sleep quality than watching TV, and also led to a “significant decline” in the boys’ ability to remember vocabulary words. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

Markus Dworak, a researcher who led the study and is now a neuroscientist at Harvard, said it was not clear whether the boys’ learning suffered because sleep was disrupted or, as he speculates, also because the intensity of the game experience overrode the brain’s recording of the vocabulary.

“When you look at vocabulary and look at huge stimulus after that, your brain has to decide which information to store,” he said. “Your brain might favor the emotionally stimulating information over the vocabulary.”

At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory.

In that vein, recent imaging studies of people have found that major cross sections of the brain become surprisingly active during downtime. These brain studies suggest to researchers that periods of rest are critical in allowing the brain to synthesize information, make connections between ideas and even develop the sense of self.

Researchers say these studies have particular implications for young people, whose brains have more trouble focusing and setting priorities.

“Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body,” said Dr. Rich of Harvard Medical School. “But kids are in a constant mode of stimulation.”

“The headline is: bring back boredom,” added Dr. Rich, who last month gave a speech to the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled, “Finding Huck Finn: Reclaiming Childhood from the River of Electronic Screens.”

Dr. Rich said in an interview that he was not suggesting young people should toss out their devices, but rather that they embrace a more balanced approach to what he said were powerful tools necessary to compete and succeed in modern life.

The heavy use of devices also worries Daniel Anderson, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who is known for research showing that children are not as harmed by TV viewing as some researchers have suggested.

Multitasking using ubiquitous, interactive and highly stimulating computers and phones, Professor Anderson says, appears to have a more powerful effect than TV.

Like Dr. Rich, he says he believes that young, developing brains are becoming habituated to distraction and to switching tasks, not to focus.

“If you’ve grown up processing multiple media, that’s exactly the mode you’re going to fall into when put in that environment — you develop a need for that stimulation,” he said.

Vishal can attest to that.

“I’m doing Facebook, YouTube, having a conversation or two with a friend, listening to music at the same time. I’m doing a million things at once, like a lot of people my age,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll say: I need to stop this and do my schoolwork, but I can’t.”

“If it weren’t for the Internet, I’d focus more on school and be doing better academically,” he says. But thanks to the Internet, he says, he has discovered and pursued his passion: filmmaking. Without the Internet, “I also wouldn’t know what I want to do with my life.”

Clicking Toward a Future

The woman sits in a cemetery at dusk, sobbing. Behind her, silhouetted and translucent, a man kneels, then fades away, a ghost.

This captivating image appears on Vishal’s computer screen. On this Thursday afternoon in late September, he is engrossed in scenes he shot the previous weekend for a music video he is making with his cousin.

The video is based on a song performed by the band Guns N’ Roses about a woman whose boyfriend dies. He wants it to be part of the package of work he submits to colleges that emphasize film study, along with a documentary he is making about home-schooled students.

Now comes the editing. Vishal taught himself to use sophisticated editing software in part by watching tutorials on YouTube. He does not leave his chair for more than two hours, sipping Pepsi, his face often inches from the screen, as he perfects the clip from the cemetery. The image of the crying woman was shot separately from the image of the kneeling man, and he is trying to fuse them.

“I’m spending two hours to get a few seconds just right,” he says.

He occasionally sends a text message or checks Facebook, but he is focused in a way he rarely is when doing homework. He says the chief difference is that filmmaking feels applicable to his chosen future, and he hopes colleges, like the University of Southern California or the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, will be so impressed by his portfolio that they will overlook his school performance.

“This is going to compensate for the grades,” he says. On this day, his homework includes a worksheet for Latin, some reading for English class and an economics essay, but they can wait.

For Vishal, there’s another clear difference between filmmaking and homework: interactivity. As he edits, the windows on the screen come alive; every few seconds, he clicks the mouse to make tiny changes to the lighting and flow of the images, and the software gives him constant feedback.

“I click and something happens,” he says, explaining that, by comparison, reading a book or doing homework is less exciting. “I guess it goes back to the immediate gratification thing.”

The $2,000 computer Vishal is using is state of the art and only a week old. It represents a concession by his parents. They allowed him to buy it, despite their continuing concerns about his technology habits, because they wanted to support his filmmaking dream. “If we put roadblocks in his way, he’s just going to get depressed,” his mother says. Besides, she adds, “he’s been making an effort to do his homework.”

At this point in the semester, it seems she is right. The first schoolwide progress reports come out in late September, and Vishal has mostly A’s and B’s. He says he has been able to make headway by applying himself, but also by cutting back his workload. Unlike last year, he is not taking advanced placement classes, and he has chosen to retake Algebra II not in the classroom but in an online class that lets him work at his own pace.

His shift to easier classes might not please college admissions officers, according to Woodside’s college adviser, Zorina Matavulj. She says they want seniors to intensify their efforts. As it is, she says, even if Vishal improves his performance significantly, someone with his grades faces long odds in applying to the kinds of colleges he aspires to.

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Qurratul Ayn
07-07-2012, 09:15 AM

Great article, Sister ~Zaria~!

It is very true... And very sad, to see in this day and age that computers and technology are higher in value than wanting to read, learn, complete homework which are very easy and simple to do especially in young people. i.e. Vishal only had 1 book to read throughput his summer holidays but no technology was more important.

It's understandable to learn about computers and technology as jobs nowadays are heavily relying and will continue to do so on technology, and then apply that knowledge and whatnot into learning some more. But staying on computers hours on end, browsing through nonsense with no beneficial gain? That's pathetic, lazy and they have no life whatsoever (generally speaking)

Interesting article, I shall pass it onto my acquaintances, maybe some of them will wake up from their virtual world :D


07-07-2012, 03:02 PM
Originally Posted by Qurratul Ayn

Interesting article, I shall pass it onto my acquaintances, maybe some of them will wake up from their virtual world :D


Please do ukthi, insha Allah.

I think Ive developed a love-hate relationship with the internet......while it undoubtedly has many benefits, we cant deny the relatively new wave of fitnahs and social problems that it has introduced.

And I greatly fear for our youth, many of whom have been raised not ever knowing a world without such technology.

Our lives have been reduced to the internet, TV, cellphones, Ipads and Ipods.
How many of us wake up each morning and feel compelled to log onto FB and other social media.....before even getting out of bed?

Before even stopping to thank Allah for a new day that He has granted us.....

How many of us end the day on social media and other on-line activities?

I fear that we are spending more and more time in a virtual dunya - a world where almost anything is possible.

And time is swiftly passing by.
Precious seconds, minutes....that turn into hours......often just mindlessly surfing the net, or engaging in useless activities that offer no investment to our aakhirah.

We have so much information available to us - more than at any point in the history of mankind.

And although Islam is spreading faster than any other religion, we are amongst the weakest of the ummah of Nabi (sallalahu alaihi wasalam):

Our knowledge of our deen is shallow.
Our hearts are becoming hardened......how many true and sincere Aashiqs (lovers) of Allah Taa'la and His nabi (sallalahu alaihi wasalam) exist today?
Our masjids stand empty - save for 'big nights', jumah prayers or Ramadaan.

Makes you think, doesnt it?

If I am ever blessed with children - I would be most satisfied if I can keep them away from this virtual world, for as long as humanly possible.
Insha Allah.

A 14 year old that is sending out 27000 messages a day.......should just, not be happening.


08-27-2012, 02:51 PM

"When we become enslaved by social networking sites or applications, we stand to lose the real people who truly mean most to us.

If we have no control over how long we spend on our phones or devices we may find our homes breaking up systematically.

The way we use our phones & handheld devices can determine the direction of our marriages & condition of our homes.

One by one, today's spouses are complaining of the same problem - uncontrolled use of phones & devices.

Are you prepared to limit the time you spend on phones, games & social apps to save your marriage? Make your decision.

- Mufti Ismail Menk

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02-21-2013, 05:46 PM

A Call to Moderation and Balance

Allah has prescribed moderation in all things. Whether it be in our diet, worship, entertainment, or careers, it is this scale of balance and moderation that makes the Muslim capable of fulfilling all of his responsibilities in life, while maintaining a healthy mental and physical state of being. Taking into consideration the turbo speed lifestyle that most of us live, the need for discipline and moderation couldn’t be more important.

Most of us are finding it very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve this balance and give time to our spouses, children, parents, friends, own selves, and most importantly to our Creator. We complain that we don’t have time for so many of the things that we hold fundamentally important to our happiness in life. Sheikh Hasan al Banna said something that we can all relate to when he said, “Obligations in life are far greater than the time we have to complete them.” Understanding that life always demands more of us than we are often capable of doing should push us harder to analyze how we spend our time and to try to find ways to be more efficient and productive.

Although some factors lie outside of our control, such as an excessively demanding job or the time it takes to commute to and from work, we must remember there are many things that are in our control.

One of the things we can control but which often consumes our free time is none other than the beloved internet. In theory, technology is supposed to make our lives better by reducing the time it takes to communicate with our family and friends, to pay our bills, to find directions to our destinations, and much more. However, the net has actually usurped much of our free time and harmed our productivity and efficiency.

For many of us, the internet has caused us to lose our balance and moderation in life.

We may find our spouses and children unhappy that we spend more time on the web than with them or that we have to check our emails 20 times a day. To compound this issue, social networking has taken our usage to all time highs, with Facebook, Twitter, Google Chat, Gmail Buzz, and other applications consuming our days and nights. In an effort to bring balance in our lives, perhaps we need to ask ourselves the following questions to see if we are truly balanced and moderate individuals. Perhaps an honest analysis of how we spend our time will help us become better and more efficient.

Here are a few questions and comparisons that may help us reorganize our days and evenings and can in sha’ Allah (if God wills) help to bring us closer to the balanced personality that Allah has commanded of us.

How many hours do I spend daily on Facebook reading my friends’ profiles and glancing through all the pictures and comments posted?
How many hours do I spend weekly reading the profile of Prophet Muhammadﷺ and his companions radi Allahu `anhum (may Allah reward them) and glancing through the comments about their words?
How many hours do I spend daily reading the words and thoughts of mankind by sifting through all the various blogs and articles I’ve bookmarked?
How many hours do I spend weekly reading the words of my Creator by sifting through the various chapters of the Qur’an?
How many hours do I spend daily on social networking sites?
How many hours do I spend daily socializing with my spouse, family, and loved ones?
How many times do I open my email account daily to see what mankind has sent to me?
How many times do I open the Qur’an weekly to see what Allah has sent to me?

After tallying up the hours we spend online versus with our family and Creator, we must keep our life goals in mind as we analyze our responses.

Although reading blogs and various websites can be of tremendous benefit, we should always prioritize our goals first. Hence, if one desires to memorize a surah (chapter of the Qur’an) or juz (one of thirty parts of the Qur’an) of the Qur’an, then that should be done prior to the additional web surfing.

To make the point even more obvious, we should come home from work, spend time with our families, do our prayers, and then sit down for a limited amount of time in front of our computers.

The reality is that no matter how much benefit we may receive from the web, if it comes at the expense of sacrificing our goals, then we will never achieve what is most important to us, which will inevitably leave us feeling unfulfilled and always complaining.

One last thing that should be given some thought: Allah has put barakah (blessing) in all things, whether it be in our wealth or our time.
Hence, we should always ask Allah to put barakah in our time so that we can accomplish far more than we perceived possible and to realize that, if we do our obligations first, then Allah will bless the remaining hours we have.

Action Item: Read “The Value of Time” by Sheikh Abi Ghudda if you need motivation on how to spend your time in things of benefit and to see how past scholars accomplished this.

Dr Benil Hafeeq K.P
Consultant Nephrologist
MIMS and IQRAA Hospital

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity"



Urban Turban
02-21-2013, 06:44 PM
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said, “Wasting time is more severe than death, for wasting time cuts you off from Allaah and the Abode of the Hereafter, whereas death cuts you off from the dunyaa and its people.”
Fawaaidul-Fawaaid, p. 458.

Thanks for sharing the article - Wish our Imam's talk about this disease more frequently in their lectures.

02-21-2013, 07:45 PM
Add pornography to the mix and you'll see an influx of confused men which in return will create angry women, considered by these men as ****s because all they have been watching is ****s. Respect is thrown out of the window.

12-29-2013, 02:17 PM
Smartphones – Disconnecting us from reality

Sakeena Suliman

Squinching, teeging and smizing are all arts to selfie posing. If you don’t know what a selfie is, I’d implore you to remain ignorant but this article might *cough* enlighten *choke* you.

If you have never heard the word selfie, teeg or smize before, it means you are of a rare breed. It means you have not attempted to pout your lips into a self-induced collagen implant look or gaze deeply into your Smartphone’s camera while your jab arm extends in front of you and you mentally say “cheese”.

Selfies are the new pics on the social network block with people taking photos of themselves and instantly sharing them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We all have those friends constantly updating a display picture or avatar with their latest stroke of self-portrait photographic genius.

If you never thought you’d get that “up close and personal” with your friends and acquaintances’ lips and other facial features, social media and the Smartphone has changed that. Forever.

That’s because in order to really enjoy it the more you have to give to it and the more transparent you have to be with it. Together, technology, the Smartphone and social media has made life about me, my selfie and I.

Turning the camera on yourself, while eating a double cheese burger, at some or other hot spot, is vain, and embarrassing. And amusing to your audience. Just like “checking in” and browsing while at social gatherings, these social-media-influenced habits have become almost normal and part of modern life.

Mobile technology has made life easier but it has ironically made us antisocial and therefore intolerable, vain and therefore somewhat obnoxious, lazy and therefore less independent.

Because we’re so used to getting streams of information at the tap of a few clicks, people have become more impatient and less attentive to what people have to say rather than what they have to show.

There’s something so fascinating about being able to communicate in badly spelled typeset that we’d rather check our emails and chat to people somewhere else on BBM or Whatsapp, rather than engage in reality with people sharing the air we breathe, right in front of us.

We’ve become so hooked with taking pictures of our food to instantly post them on Instagram for strangers to feast on our meals that we hardly look up from the dinner table anymore. Engaging with our families and friends means sharing videos, pictures and links through chat groups called “family” or “friends”.

We’ve become so robotic that we’d rather hug through emoticon than actually step inside another human being’s one square meter of personal space to do it. The only other hand we’re keen to walk and hold is our hand held.

Engaging with technology has become so addictive that it shares our pillow and has become the first thing we reach for in the morning. People are constantly on their phones and sometimes in the most inappropriate places.

It’s guaranteed that if someone gets to work or campus and realises they’re phoneless, they behave as though they’ve been thrust into a rehab centre called the real world for that day.

If you suffer from symptoms such as reaching into your handbag or pocket every five minutes for your Smartphone or you feel lost without your gadget, then you’re an addict. And most of us probably are.

While cell phones of before might have allowed us to multi task because it only needed one hand to operate, Smartphones require both our hands and so much more attention.

Technology may be in the palm of our hands and has placed the world at our feet but it’s made us aloof, cold beings easily and constantly connected to a virtual reality. Disconnecting us from the reality that matters and changing the essence of our humanity.


12-29-2013, 03:14 PM
Technology/entertainment is ok if you do it in moderation...I remember once I was waiting for my next class in the hallway; we had a test that day, and 4 girls were sitting on the floor against the wall with their books open in their laps,papers,notebooks open around them...yet they were texting on their phones the whole time before class...:heated:

12-29-2013, 04:09 PM

Today I attended an event which held by company where I become a partner. When I came the high level officers greet me. Even the boss, branch manager, specially greet me too. It because I have good relationship with them. Sometime I met them, and talk with them. Not only about business, but we could talk about other matter too, as friend.

Frankly, one of many things that make grateful is my easiness in interaction and build relationship with other people. It make me easy to get friends, since I was kid until now.

But probably it's because I grew up in period before the internet age when interaction mean face to face interaction, not 'face to monitor' like in this internet age.

About smartphone. If I want smartphone I could go to phone shop and buy an expensive smartphone. I have money, Alhamdulillah. But I have no smartphone because I never interested to have it.

To be honest, my cellphone is just cheap Chinese cellphone which I use only for talk and send/receive SMS.

01-23-2014, 03:58 PM
iPads are the new nannies

Sakeena Suliman – Cii News | 22 January 2014/20 Rabi ul Awwal 1435

Children are increasingly becoming more comfortable interacting with a screen – the thinner, brighter and bigger, the better – than with their parents and families.

Constantly-improving technology has become a permanent part of our lives and is spilling over into parenting, socialising, communicating and even development.

Dr Google has replaced the family GP, the electronic nanny in the form of mum’s Smartphone or dad’s Ipad, with loads of apps designed for kids, has replaced real time spent with them, EBooks have replaced the library, and Television has replaced “cops and robbers” with neighbourhood friends.

It can’t be denied that technology is changing the way adults and kids learn and behave, the way we interact and communicate, and the way we acquire things.

Whether introducing your child to technology at a young age is good or bad, has become a concern. Given the rate at which technology emerges and advances and that it is in its infancy, there isn’t the benefit of historical evidence nor enough time to research the value and cost of these advancements in relation to how it influences children’s ability to think and develop.

More and more kids are learning to work with tech gadgets before even being potty trained. Possibly because technology proves a quick pacifier in times of tantrums. Many parents take pride in their toddlers or pre-schoolers being tech savvy, and an increasing number of schools are considering making technological devices essential learning aids.

Cii Radio spoke to Doctor Lorraine Excel – head of the Foundation Phase Learning at the Wits school of Education about kids using any form of technology in their early stages of development.

While Excel said there is a place for it considering that it’s here to stay, she did not believe it should be a primary educational tool. “… young children learn predominantly through moving and therefore they need to be doing other things to help build all the under pinning skills and concepts that they need for later academic learning,” she said.

But Muhammad Amra, head of WonderKids Montessori said their school will be introducing tablets this year from pre-school phase to examine whether it can enhance the benefits of traditional educational methods.

He says given its newness it would be impractical to deny it because there is no evidence to prove its harms or benefits yet. “We have all been groomed into thinking the traditional method, that children need to learn by using their hands and undoubtedly that will always be the foundation. But is the use of technology going to deny them that? Are we going to use technology and replace the traditional system that is the debate.”

Recent research investigating the neurological pathways and how they develop in the brain of a young child is related to a certain amount of physical activity and movement. That seems to establish neural pathways in young children which are essential for later learning.

Technological gadgets with applications designed to incorporate the user’s own movements, Excel said might be helpful but concentrate on small areas of movement. She said while they might aid in parts of the learning process, the screen becomes nothing more than a “sophisticated work sheet”- not the ideal way of acquiring knowledge and skills and concepts.

“Another very important part of development in children is the social and emotional side and for children to gain that they obviously have to interact with each other. And I think there’s a great danger in excessive use of technology especially children who are reluctant to socialise that they can easily hide behind the technology and then people are happy, parents are happy, the child is busy but the child is not actually learning essential social skills which I think we all need as we grow up, technology or no technology,” said Excel.

Both Excel and Amra however agreed that technology was here to stay and will in some form or another be introduced to children. It was up to parents to monitor their use, they said,

“We know there is enough research proven over and over, the harm and benefit of TV. It’s the parents’ choice and it’s the parents guidance that is required in raising children, and control the access. The harms of TV come in when it is unbridled, uncontrolled, children are given complete access to it. The down side is overuse an addiction,” explained Amra.

Limiting a child’s technology use is important especially since children play outside less now than before. Narcissism, lack of empathy, dependency, depression and other personality disorders have also been noted as results of over exposure to technology. There have already been cases of kids being treated with technology addiction as well as other conditions reported. Excel stressed the need for limiting a child’s interaction with technology in their early years.

“For instance in a pre-school programme, I wouldn’t introduce it as a formal part of that programme but it would be there if they wanted to use it to interact with it just like with any other type of learning material like blocks, puzzles etc,” she said, “… I think parents often equate children’s ability to work on these technological devices as a child being really bright or really intelligent – and I’m not saying the children aren’t – but I don’t think it’s a true measure of the total development of the child and for me in early childhood that is what’s very important.”

A UK research report revealed that around 2.1million children under the age of eight, equal to 27 per cent of children in this age group, have a tablet. With the rise in children not just using these gadgets but owning them too, it introduces the problem of parents who can’t afford them being pressured to buy it so their child “fits in”.

The age old debate of children wearing school uniforms versus “civvies” is slowly changing to whether parents should let their kids own tech gadgets or not. This is sure to clearly separate the so called haves from the have nots.


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