30 January 2015

Grist For The New Mill

My kindred soul amongst the highly paid curmugeons remains Nick Carr (not Cage, as my independent fingers sometimes say). Had I started these endeavors long before I did, I might be he. Sort of, of course, in a metaphorical sense. Today brings further evidence.

Susan Pinker reports the obvious: that, given the opportunity, even kiddies will while away time being frivolous.
"Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores," the economists wrote, adding that license to surf the Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.

Why should we be surprised? Their parents are busy doing Angry Birds on their mobiles and slurping up porn on their PCs.

The problem is the differential impact on children from poor families. Babies born to low-income parents spend at least 40 percent of their waking hours in front of a screen -- more than twice the time spent by middle-class babies. They also get far less cuddling and bantering over family meals than do more privileged children. The give-and-take of these interactions is what predicts robust vocabularies and school success. Apps and videos don't.
The Wife spent a year or two as a middle school teacher (it was Just What I Want To Do, until it wasn't) and learned the most important lesson that early childhood professionals have known for, at least, decades: if little Billy is going to be a thug, little Billy will have arrived by five or six years of age. Raise disassociated kids and we're Shocked, Shocked I Say to find them growing up anti-social cretins. My, my.

If anything, reliance on The Network (in all its omniscience) leads to a shallow brain. Not to suggest we should just go back to Readin, Ritin, and Rithmetic of our grandparents. But the skull of a juvenile will fill up, nature abhoring a vacuum and all that, and we may as well fill it up with reasoning and base knowledge to support reasoning. Knowing how to code PHP or javascript doesn't aid that.

No comments: