I recently read this article on PsychologyToday, and it really drives home a lot of my intuition about screens. I’ve always been hesitant to put screens in front of the very young. It’s captivating in a way that leaves me unsettled. When we’re older, being captivated by a movie or show we enjoy is a real treat. It’s an escape. With the young, there is a vast developmental difference.
Now I’m not a neurologist, just an observer. When I observe the very young (say under three years old) being captivated by a screen, I find myself unsettled. This unsettled feeling delineates from a knowing that this is very new technology and we do not know the full extent of it’s effects. It’s one thing for adults to design a technology that can help other well-balanced, reasonable adults share and communicate. But when that technology gets in front of people who haven’t learned critical thinking faculties, much less communication, who are still in their very formative phases of human development, there are more unknowns here for me than knowns. And when it comes to the healthy development of children, I like knowns. I like knowing that something is beneficial and constructive. Just because I grew up with something doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial for healthy human development. And the knowledge of people like Steve Jobs not letting their own kids play with the technology they developed adds more weight to my suspicions.
The message of this article underscores one of the reasons I pursue ecovillages. Their communal environments are facilitate nature and it’s wisdom, and not the escape of screens. With all the challenges facing our planet today, I do feel that Richard Louv’s statement of ‘the health of children and the health of the earth [being] inseparable’ all the more relevant. We need a generation of children more connected to nature, and that isn’t going to happen with screens.