A friend called herself lazy in telling me she replaced her laptop with her phone because the latter finishes her word for her as she types. I’d say that’s being efficient. But it is a fuzzy line between efficiency and laziness, isn’t it? Today’s family is surrounded by machines dedicated to saving us time because we really are so busy. I, notoriously so. My husband has come to see I honestly don’t have a New York Minute. So if you offer me something to maximize my time, I’m in (unless it has too many dizzying icons). But I wonder about the aggregate impact of a tech-dependent culture on our kids’ capacity to learn. How will children who’re used to commanding entertainment and sensory incitement at the touch of a button grow up to embrace endeavors that require simple patience and dogged commitment? It’s a concern I first explored in the Tiger Mother post that I find myself revisiting from different angles.
The boundless places we can go and things we can do in cyberspace are technology’s version of fast food. Speedy, convenient, satisfying service. Our powers on the internet embody the antithesis of what took time to clean, chop, simmer properly for health’s sake. Only there is no hassle of a drive-thru, the kids are behind the dash, and for many of them, it’s free. Not unlike the sugar they prefer over whole foods, their online fun is a saccharin pleasure. Not only does the body become sedentary, but the mind bears a direct impact and nourishment is not what it gets. Antisocial Networking, a 2010 NY Times article by Hilary Stout, mentions kindergarteners buried in their technological fixations during playdates. It relays the belief of researchers that brains will be rewired. It is common knowledge that sensory experiences grow and direct cognitive neural pathways. The implications for learning in the context of our tech-crazed culture are foreboding.