ELIANT Conference November 28th, 2017
TOWARDS A HEALTHY DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM
Workshop 3, Summary
This workshop was led jointly by Georg Soldner and Prof. Thomas Fuchs and focused on the contents of his lecture in order to have an exchange and enter more deeply into the subject.
1. The child's own activity during early childhood and its social experiences play a significant role in forming its body.
- bodily action
- social action
- emotional engagement
They have a powerful influence not only on the brain but also on the metabolic system and on the heart and circulation of the blood.
2. Jack Shonkoff/Harvard ("Toxic Stress in Early Childhood", 2012) amongst many others can confirm that 'toxic stress' in early childhood is caused primarily by neglect, the absence of a reliable reference person in demanding situations and the lack of immediate warmth and affection and that this can have far reaching negative consequences for the physical, psychological and spiritual development of the child – even as far as its epigenetic configuration and brain architecture.
3. This information led the group of around 30 participants to declare unanimously that digital media has no place in the education of young children. This is primarily because:
- Attention deficit rather than concentration is encouraged (the child is continually pursuing new impressions instead of learning to concentrate on a particular subject with an adult or play a game together etc. It also does little to help the child control its own impulsive actions).
- It weakens the child's physical activity starting with the eye muscles (leading to a shocking increase in myopia), through to limb activity (reduced capacity to move oneself, maintain balance etc.).
- It means that children no longer play outside so often with all the ensuing consequences including vitamin D deficiency, delayed motoric development etc.
- There is a tendency towards greater dependency.
There is no scientific evidence showing how it furthers early years development but a great deal pointing to its negative impact. This applies particularly to the development of speech. Empirical evidence shows a correlation between the marked increase in disturbed speech development in early childhood and the fewer conversations with parents and carers because an increased use of digital media.
Digital media is particularly harmful when it is used by the child without an accompanying adult. That is a very common scenario however. But it is precisely this situation that should be avoided since it presents an immediate danger to early childhood development.
We are calling for digital media and its potentially toxic and addictive effect on early childhood to be taken seriously and regulated in a similar way for instance to nicotine and alcohol.