Daniel J. Crowley
Sped 962 Developmental Patterns of Children with Special Needs
Children’s use of technology most affects a person’s cognitive development by eliminating the time that children have for other activities like proper sleep, a basketball game in the park, or just a face to face chat with a group of friends. Technology is not a proper substitute for a play ground, parks or a chat with friends where a child can find unlimited opportunities to learn valuable information about how they fit in the real world.
A child’s cognitive development is not harmed directly by technology so much as it is harmed indirectly by abstaining from physical activities, failing to get proper sleep, or not interacting with peers. A study by the Kaiser foundation illustrates the enormous time children spend multi – tasking each day through technology, “Today’s youth pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media content into those daily 7 1/2 hours – an increase of almost 2 1/4 hours of media exposure per day over the past five years” (Henry J. Kaiser Foundation 2010, p.1). It is not to suggest that technology plays no role in increasing a child’s cognitive development; it is to suggest that there is a widening gap between the time a child entertains themselves with technology and the moments that he or she allocate to alternatives activities. The benefits children receive from non – technology based activities are found in many research studies on cognitive development; for example, a study by preeminent sleep theorist Dr. Sadeh showed that the cognitive abilities of elementary school children deprived of just one hours night sleep would be reduced by two years the following morning (Sadeh, Gruber & Ravi 2003, p.444 -445). Children cannot be engaged in interactive play with their peers, sleep or physical exercise which are so critical to their development, due to an overuse of isolating technological activities such as cell phones, television and video games.
Children who spend too much time with technology find themselves isolated from their peers. Leading theorists like Jean Piaget understood the importance of peer interaction as a research tool that provides children with unlimited opportunities to evaluate other people’s concept of how to deal with situations that happen in the world. According to Piaget, “children gained knowledge about the world through their interaction with others and incorporated that information into cognitive structures” (Piaget 1962, p.257). Piaget saw unscripted play as a way for children to gain new social skills by assimilating a peer’s new ideas and changing their understanding of the world to accommodate them. Children exposed to peer play gain the skill set which will allow them to progress away from an egocentric view point in which they are the center of the universe to a more abstract vision of the world that encompasses the morals needs of society. A child that has gained understanding of this is said to gain the social, emotional, and cognitive skills and behaviors that they need in order to be successful people in the world.
Piaget would find educational value in any technology that allows children the opportunity to freely experiment with their understanding of the world. From the preoperational through the operational stage, children receive educational experiences even from basic technology like karaoke machines or cell phones that provide them the opportunity to test their language skills through experimentation. A child in the preoperational stage will use the karaoke machine in symbolic play to pretend to be a rock star. The operational stage children that are further along on their cognitive development might use a cell phone share ideas on what it is like to be in a rock group. However, the most promising use of...