Children’s experiences with digital technologies
Children’s experiences with digital technologies

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Children’s experiences with digital technologies

2 Debates about new technologies

The use of digital technologies has raised several debates in the media. Some examples are found in news headlines such as:

  • ‘Are tablet computers harming our children’s ability to read?’
  • ‘Addictive video games may change children’s brains in the same way as drugs and alcohol’
  • ‘Screen time for children: Good, bad, or it depends?’

These debates point to promises or concerns about whether and how time spent with new media or technology may have a positive or negative impact on the development of children. They also raise discussions about the role of parents or guardians in regulating or mediating the technology–child relationship.

These debates are not new or uncommon, but rather recurring. Historically, similar concerns and debates came about when radio and television emerged. For example, television was viewed as:

  • destroying family relationships and the functioning of households
  • promoting socially undesirable behaviours such as aggression
  • reducing the amount of time spent on other activities such as reading or listening to the radio
  • keeping the children inside the house (and off the streets) thus strengthening family relationships.
(Strasburger, Wilson and Jordan, 2009)

On the one hand, ‘optimists’ viewed new media technology such as movies, radio, television and computers as altering the way children learn and making them smarter at a younger age. On the other hand, ‘pessimists’ viewed time spent with media as unethical or questionable due to ‘too much sex, too much violence, too commercial’ (Wartella and Robb, 2011, p. 7).

In this section, you will look closer into one popular debate surrounding the use of digital technology by children, in particular whether or not playing digital games can harm children and result in game addiction. The aim is to reflect on the issues raised and take a position as to whether arguments made in the two articles below hold true or if they are just media ‘hype’.

Activity 2

Read the following two pieces of news and answer the questions below. Then you should justify your own position about whether or not playing digital games can harm children and result in game addiction.

Article 1

Addictive video games may change children's brains in the same way as drugs and alcohol, study reveals [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

  1. What technology is discussed in the article?
  2. What is the age of the children in the article?
  3. What is the central argument of the article?
  4. How is this argument justified?
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Article 2

The signs and effects of video game addiction

  1. What technology is discussed in the article?
  2. What is the age of the children in the article?
  3. What is the central argument of the article?
  4. How is this argument justified?
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Your position

Note down and justify, if possible with evidence, your perspective about whether or not playing digital games can harm children and result in game addiction.

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Hopefully you enjoyed reading the two articles and you have made some notes as to how arguments are presented and justified. In the next section, you will explore this issue further, in particular the role of evidence and how it can inform our perspectives on controversial issues such as video game addiction.

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