Impacts of Digital Technology on Cognitive Development

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  • 0:04 Digital Technology
  • 0:56 Positive Cognitive Impacts
  • 2:17 Negative Cognitive Impacts
  • 3:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

This lesson is going to look at something that is being debated very heavily in education. We will look at the positive and negative impacts of digital technology on cognitive skills.

Digital Technology

If you look around you right now, you probably wouldn't be surprised to see that you're surrounded by digital technology all day every day. Digital technology refers to anything that is computerized. Almost every aspect of our lives are controlled by computers. The music we listen to right now is saved in digital technology formats, whether it's been downloaded or is streaming on a platform like Spotify or Pandora. Most of us walk around with digital technology at our fingertips thanks to our smartphones. The televisions we watch now are even smart televisions.

But with everything around us being so smart, it begs the question: are we still smart? This is a question that keeps coming up the more and more we rely on computers for everything. The question is debated even more when we think about our children that are developing with computer technology being used everywhere they turn.

Positive Cognitive Impacts

Children like to play games on computers and on their consoles and, as you probably know, can spend many hours doing so. While this has been looked down upon in the past by people who didn't fully understand video games, studies have started to show that it actually appears to be an advantage for children to play computer and video games. Having to look at images on the screen and analyze what to do seems to help with the development of cognitive skills, or thinking skills. There's also some evidence that this helps with recognizing images in general, which is a necessary skill in nonverbal communication.

Aside from games, children also use computers for learning purposes. Educational software has popped up over time, for examples. Educators have made use of these to rope in children that have grown up knowing nothing other than computers. Most educational software enables children to learn how to identify correct answers. This may indeed help with multiple choice and standardized tests in which the correct answer is readily in front of them.

A lot of beginning cognitive skills are developed during the preschool age period. This is the time when children are at home or in daycares. Digital technology for this age group is aimed at presenting pictures, letters, and numbers to them for them to interact with. Seeing these can help young children learn the alphabet, order of numbers, and names of simple everyday items in ways that they're more likely to find fun.

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