EdTech series: Addiction experts warn of “digital heroin”

EdTechlogo3There are strong warnings about the dangers of digital device addiction from Dr. Nicholas Karderas in Saturday’s New York Post:

We now know that those iPads, smartphones 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. Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels — the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic — as much as sex.

This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls screens “electronic cocaine” and Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin.” In fact, Dr. Andrew Doan, the head of addiction research for the Pentagon and the US Navy — who has been researching video game addiction — calls video games and screen technologies “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for drug).

Dr. Karderas points out that some of the best known Silicon Valley parents – Steve Jobs of Apple and many others — have sent their  children to low-tech Waldorf schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

PAA’s collected EdTech research echoes these concerns. We learned, among other things, that “Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis and problematic child behavior….Measurable consequences show interference with brain development, risk of addiction, loss of the sense of reality and self-control, and burnout. See our report, “How EdTech may be harming our children’s mental and emotional health” for more information and references.

PAA has made some recommendations for advocacy action here. Consider using Dr. Karderas’ parent digital opt out letter as school begins.



Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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