How is digital technology impacting children?

While we may be enjoying a (reasonable) disconnection with the summer break, let’s look back on some of the key points from the discussion between Arnaud de Saint-Simon and Fanchon Mayaudon-Nehlig during the Viva Technology show in Paris, France.

Some fundamental issues relating to (dis)connection were covered: What is the real impact of digital technology on our brains? Are geeky teens really so isolated? Are we spending too much time on our screens? Verdict? Zen…

Connection: yesterday, today, tomorrow

Today, everyone can see that digital technology has become an integral part of our existence and is impacting family life.

This arouses a mixture of fascination and concern. Progress is moving forward very quickly and our lives are being transformed, without us really having time to think about this. The way we love, travel, care and study is changing. Family life has been reconfigured by screens – sometimes even on holiday! But do we really want to go back 20 years? No!
Arnaud de Saint-Simon (founding partner of the Digital Society Forum and editorial director for Psychologies Magazine)

Children and teens

In terms of the studies highlighting that young people spend “too long” on screens, the opinions expressed were more balanced.

Not all children are the same. It is not the same thing to have a two-year-old child who certainly needs to be protected against screens and a teenager who surfs the web and loves playing videogames. We need to differentiate between the audiences to adapt our response. Digital technology is impacting concentration, attentiveness, and so on. But above all, it is leading us to adopt a more horizontal way of thinking: it is promoting the ability to move from one subject to another, and that is a talent. But this also makes it difficult to take an in-depth look at subjects. So, we need to keep some times when children will look into things in depth and think. As well as taking time for a break. This is also part of disconnecting!
Arnaud de Saint-Simon
Lots of studies have come out raising questions about digital technology and particularly the significant changes it is making to our brain’s structural organization. The only thing is, if we think like this, should we be concerned about learning how to read and write, which, I would like to remind you, completely restructure certain parts of our brain, which specialize to become experts in these areas? And then I ask myself if it is really necessary for knowledge to compete against other knowledge. Generally, I prefer to say to myself that reading, writing AND coding transform the brain’s cognitive functions AND are useful!
Fanchon Mayaudon-Nehlig (co-founder and educational manager with the startup Coding Days)

Videogames: love knows no bounds?

Disconnecting in the summer sounds great, but what about gaming? It is the holidays...are they really bad for you?

Is love positive or does it destroy things? Both are true! Videogames develop creativity, the ability to organize yourself within a group, and they socialize children. But they can also be harmful for children who may tend to be introverted. And let’s be clear about this: banning things does not work. So what should we do? The ideal approach, for parents, is to take an interest in them, to help their children to use them intelligently and reasonably.
Arnaud de Saint-Simon
There is no need to panic, but no need to be naive either. We need to do things with children – whether or not they are connected – to understand where limits need to be set.
Fanchon Mayaudon-Nehlig