I want to point to the Oct. 2 issue of PNAS
, which free online access to a Sackler Colloquium on Digital Media and Developing Minds. The place to start is the introductory article by David Meyer
, "From savannas to blue-phase LCD screens: Prospects and perils for child development in the Post-Modern Digital Information Age." Some clips from his article:
The Sackler Colloquium “Digital Media and Developing Minds” was an interdisciplinary collaborative endeavor to promote joint interests of the National Academy of Sciences, the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, and the Institute of Digital Media and Child Development.‡‡ At the colloquium, a select group of media-savvy experts in diverse disciplines assembled to pursue several interrelated goals: (i) reporting results from state-of-the art scientific research; (ii) establishing a dialogue between medical researchers, social scientists, communications specialists, policy officials, and other interested parties who study media effects; and (iii) setting a future research agenda to maximize the benefits, curtail the costs, and minimize the risks for children and teens in the Post-Modern Digital Information Age.
Christakis et al. (36) report on “How early media exposure may affect cognitive function: A review of results from observations in humans and experiments in mice,” reviewing relevant results from empirical studies of humans and animal models that concern how intense environmental stimulation influences neural brain development and behavior.
Lytle et al. (37) report on “Two are better than one: Infant language learning from video improves in the presence of peers,” showing that social copresence with other same-aged peers facilitates 9-mo-old infants’ learning of spoken phonemes through interactions with visual touch screens.
Kirkorian and Anderson (38) report on “Effect of sequential video shot comprehensibility on attentional synchrony: A comparison of children and adults,” using temporally extended eye-movement records to investigate how “top-down” cognitive comprehension processes for interpreting video narratives develop over an age-range from early childhood (4-y-old) to adulthood.
Beyens et al. (39) report on “Screen media use and ADHD-related behaviors: Four decades of research,” systematically surveying representative scientific literature that suggests a modest positive correlation—moderated by variables such as gender and chronic aggressive tendencies—between media use and ADHD-related behaviors, thereby helping pave the way toward future detailed theoretical models of these phenomena.
Prescott et al. (40) report on “Metaanalysis of the relationship between violent video game play and physical aggression over time,” applying sophisticated statistical techniques to assess data from a large cross-cultural sample of studies (n = 24; aggregated participant sample size > 17,000) about associations between video game violence and prospective future physical aggression, which has yielded evidence of small but reliable direct relationships that are largest among Whites, intermediate among Asians, and smallest (unreliable) among Hispanics.
Uncapher and Wagner (41) report on “Minds and brains of media multitaskers: Current findings and future directions,” evaluating whether intensive media multitasking (i.e., engaging simultaneously with multiple media streams; for example, texting friends on smart phones while answering email messages on laptop computers and playing video games on other electronic devices) leads to relatively poor performance on various cognitive tests under single-tasking conditions, which might happen because chronic media multitasking diminishes individuals’ powers of sustained goal-directed attention.
Finally, Katz et al. (42) report on “How to play 20 questions with nature and lose: Reflections on 100 years of brain-training research,” analyzing how and why past research based on various laboratory and real-world approaches to training basic mental processes (e.g., selective attention, working memory, and cognitive control)—including contemporary video game playing (also known as “brain training”)—have yet to yield consistently positive, practically significant, outcomes, such as durable long-term enhancements of general fluid intelligence.
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