Slice of Life Story -The Danger of The Screen

I listened to Professor Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist from Oxford University discussing her theory that ‘screen technologies’ may be having a detrimental impact on child development if used excessively. She admits that at this time her view has not been tested. However, she expresses a concern for the dulling of creativity and imagination where children are not interacting in normal social intercourse, but indulging in repetitive narratives that many screen technologies present. The nature of these technologies mean that the same discourse is repeated and this is by itself limiting cognitive development and sensitivity. You finish the game and start again. You watch the video and then watch it again. It is the game that holds sway. You respond to the game, not the emotional response of another human being. You don't respond to the emotional impact of your actions because it is not reflected in the screen characters.They don't smile, cry, and laugh when you take action. By contrast real life narratives are irreversible, one off interactions that are ever changing and varied. Their is an ever present emotional response.

I grew up as part of a generation that experienced minimal contact with screen technology. Our play was largely inventive. We created our own mind movies, thus stimulating the imagination. I mean, I was almost eleven before my family bought a television! In hindsight, how lucky I was during those formative years?

Parents who ration their children’s viewing of screen technologies appear to be onto something quite critical here. Children who fill their playing time in meaningful interaction and narratives with responsive humans would appear to be better placed to develop creativeness, empathy and imagination than those sucking up hours of one on one technology.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and embrace its use. My Ipod and my computer form part of my life support unit. But I have balance in my life and crave the stimulation that social discourse brings. However, I find myself strongly aligned to Professor Greenfield’s view that children’s exposure to technology requires careful consideration and monitoring. I am noticing what appears to be an increasing number of young people who exhibit symptoms of what may well be the results of over exposure to screen technologies. They lack the verbal skills to clearly articulate their views, they appear de-sensitized to natural phenomena, and they exhibit a general lack of ‘spark’ The subtleties of language escape them and they take verbal triggers quite literally. They appear to have missed those rich narrative interactions that emerge from regular real life conversations.

Susan Greenfield has sparked my thinking. I feel a need to investigate further and read more on this issue…


  1. I'm totally with you on this one. But I'm old old old and teach young young young college-aged students who'll think nothing of spending HOURS playing video games, but have a hard time reading their book. While I have read theories about how this popular culture is actually teaching a different set of skills, I'm not sure I want the old skills--of human interaction--to disappear. I enjoyed your post.

    I should tell you that my lemons are golden and hanging beautifully next to the blooming flowers on my tree. As we are opposite seasons, your lemons will soon be here. I have Meyer lemon trees, and I leave the lemons on year round, plucking them as I need them.

    I can never move from this house because of those trees!


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