In the near future children will not be only competing against other children but also against robots and many other technologies. Even today children have to deal with social media and other digital chaos around us. How should parents proceed in order to protect their children from “digital dementia” and other negative consequences and at the same time teach them how to leverage all those useful technologies, so they won’t be left behind?
Back in the day, the biggest fear the kids had was being grounded by their parents for bad behavior. Nowadays, many children don’t understand how that was a punishment. If today’s children were grounded they could still socialize through Facebook, Instagram or multiplayer video games. And for them, it might be the preferred way anyway.
Lately, many researchers have been warning that our growing use of digital devices can affect the quality of sleep, obesity, and trigger aggressive behavior. At alarming rates, the kids raised in the digital age have been developing cognitive problems and attention issues and have been struggling with a bad memory, organization, reasoning, problem-solving, and in-person social communication. Moreover, there’s a concern that many teens are suffering from digital dementia now.
According to Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, heavy technology users are more likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side underdeveloped. The right side of the brain is associated with concentration and underdevelopment affects attention and memory span, which could in as many as 15% of cases lead to the early onset of dementia. Recently published Korean research found that 14% of young people aged between 18-39 complained that their memory was poor.
If young generations are struggling today, how is it going to be in 10-20 years? With accelerating artificial intelligence and virtual reality – possibly combined with social networks – it will be much more difficult to guide children in both worlds – the real one and the virtual.
Most experts agree that people have to go back to the roots and emphasize the best parts of being human: curiosity and creativity. As machines overtake bigger roles in society and the economy, humans will need to embrace the advantages of their humanity.
The education system needs to change
Obviously, it is mainly the parents who have the biggest impact on their children. But they are not the only ones – especially in today’s digital era. In the world of accelerating change, the education system has to change as well, ideally right at the elementary school.
In the near future, robotics and artificial intelligence will allow any of us easily and quickly find answers, create products or accomplish tasks, all simply by expressing our desires. Especially due to the generation gap, parents won’t be able to educate and lead their children fully.
This deficit could be supplemented by schools offering digital/internet literacy education – i.e. not only how to find, evaluate, produce and communicate information, but also to raise awareness about the negative impact these technologies might have.
In order to achieve all this, it is absolutely crucial to completely transform our education system. Memorizing dates and grinding information without higher purpose gives you robot. And as we know, fighting artificial intelligence is a losing battle. We have to teach kids how to be creative, how to plan, strategize and perform services. All those attributes require social skills. Only this path – preventing future generations from digital dementia and social dysfunctions – will prepare us for life in the exponential era.
Article by Martin Kysilka, 6DHub.