(203) 453-5067 Laura@HandleEducation.com

The Effect of Digital Devices on Children’s Brains

A recent article on the Market Watch site features a disturbing headline: “Screens are hooking kids on ‘digital heroin.’”  The article chronicles the case of a young child who became disengaged from his previous physical activities like outdoor play and sports in favor  of his digital device. In fact,  he became so addicted to his iPad’s Minecraft game that he exhibited signs of catatonia.  While that instance provides an extreme situation, research now demonstrates that excessive use of digital devices has a detrimental effect on brain development. “Those iPads, smart phones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex—which controls executive functioning, including impulse control—in exactly the same way that cocaine does.” According to a 2013 Policy Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 8- to 10 year-olds spend 8 hours a day with various digital media while teenagers spend 11 hours in front of screens. Years ago, I advised parents to “Kill your television” in order to promote creative thinking and physical activity. Now the list of undesirable devices has grown: computers, smart phones, and tablets, to mention a few.  A number of tech designers such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos,  and Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Montessori or Waldorf Schools.   Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has a foundation called Vroom that addresses this digital problem. The foundation report found that screen time is no substitute for one-on-one spoken interaction and play that nurtures babies’ language development. Rather than plopping a digital device into a baby’s hands, parents should read to them or engage them in conversation.  Susan Neuman, Professor of Early Childhood and Literacy Education at New York… Read More »

Soft Skills and Mindsets-Essential for Learning

How a person approaches life  certainly says a great deal about him or  her.  In fact, history provides many examples of individuals who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to surpass everyone’s expectations.  One such historical example is currently being lionized  on the Broadway stage: Alexander Hamilton. This West Indian orphan  abandoned at an early age, sailed across the Caribbean to became the right hand man of George Washington and  the first Secretary of the US Treasury. What accounted for this seemingly miraculous transformation? The many documents he  left behind, demonstrate that he had an almost insatiable appetite for learning. Furthermore, he appeared to embody personal  traits such as Work ethic, attitude, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and a whole host of other personal attributes that are the soft skills that are crucial for career success.  In short, he appears to have possessed a “growth mindset.” What is a mindset?  In her book by the same name, Carol Dweck defines it as “the view that (a person) adopts of himself.”(Dweck p. 25)  People can exhibit either a fixed or  growth mindset.  Students who believe that they are born with a certain ability that nothing can change, being either smart or dumb, have a fixed mindset. The fixed mindset appears to be quite detrimental to learning.  These individuals have labeled themselves and may avoid learning anything that interferes with this perception. Thus, children who are labeled as “smart” often refuse to work on challenging material.  The task may be “dumb,” so they throw up their hands and walk away. they don’t learn. On the other hand, a growth mindset allows people to believe that they can… Read More »

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This training will help to raise test scores for your students, decrease discipline challenges, and improve classroom rapport. You will learn how to meet students where they are and lead them where they need to be, capture attention, and promote deeper learning.