Are your kids addicted to technology?

October 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The average young person spends eight and a half hours each day exposed to digital technology. Dr. Gary Small, author of "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind," says that constant use of the Internet, Blackberrys and video games is not only altering our lives, it's altering our brains.

How is technology affecting your family?

Computers, email, smart phones, video games, TV, etc., are fracturing the traditional nuclear family - fewer meals together, less interaction between generations, kids hide in their rooms with their computers speaking new text message/IM language

A child's brain is most sensitive and most exposed

  • Average kid spends nearly 9 hrs every day using this technology
  • American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV/videos before age 2

Bad news:

  • Possible worsening of attention (increase ADHD)
  • Less physical exercise and increase body weight
  • Decreased social skills/eye contact
  • Technology addiction to texting, email, video games and chatting

Good news:

  • Better multi-tasking skills/peripheral vision (video gaming surgeons make fewer operating room errors)
  • Better social computer networking, cyber communication
  • Potential to train the brain in a positive way

Technology affects everyone's brain

  • Recent UCLA study shows that brain activation is much greater during Internet searching than reading a book page. This activation was especially striking in the frontal lobe, which controls complex reasoning and decision making
  • Video gaming appears to alter frontal lobe function and interfere with the ability to recognize a emotional facial expression

What can we do?

  • Designate tech-free family time (dinners, evenings, weekends, etc.).
  • Tech together - kids can teach parents and grandparents how to text, play games, email, etc.
  • Look for clues to addiction, tech-driven ADHD, social withdrawal
  • Get help - addiction specialists and clinics are now treating tech addicts

Dr. Gary Small will be speaking Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008 in Palo Alto:

Moderator: Jeff Zimman - CEO, Posit Science

Speaker: Gary Small, MD, Director of the Aging and Memory Research Center, Semel Institute

Location: Wilson Sonsini - 950 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto

Time: 6:00PM Registration, Hors d'oeuvres and Networking; 7:00PM Presentation and Panel Discussion

Registration: In advance here. $20.00 in advance on the website. $25.00 Walk-ins at the door (cash or check please, no credit cards accepted at door)

Buy the book on Amazon: iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind

About Dr. Gary Small
Gary Small, MD, is a Professor of Psychiatry and Aging at UCLA, author of the international bestseller, The Memory Bible, and regular guest expert on the brain for NBC's TODAY Show. Scientific American magazine named him one of the world's top innovators in science and technology. Visit Small's website at www.DrGarySmall.com.


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