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Warning on reports technology is harming children

THE use of technology can be beneficial for children, and parents should treat reports about apparent adverse impacts with caution, according to an academic.

Dr Mark Sprevak, of Edinburgh University, believes there is often little or no evidence for claims, including one report that excessive use of smart-phones could lead to early-onset dementia in teenagers.

The issue is being examined today by Dr Sprevak, part of the Eidyn Research Centre of the University's School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at a 'Philosophy and the Playground event' at Summerhall, Edinburgh.

He said: "There have been a lot of scary headlines over the years about technology and how it might affect children.

"In each of these cases, once you look at them in more detail, you find that there is not only no evidence for their assertions, but often the evidence is that that technology could actually improve outcomes.

"Texting in many circumstances is correlated with being a better speller, and appropriately using electronic calculators is correlated with being better in learning mental arithmetic.

"There was no peer-reviewed study on the 'digital dementia' report - it was just picked up, there was no hard evidence to back up the claim."

The use of calculators in tests by children aged up to 11 has recently been banned in England. In November 2012 the Westminster education minister Elizabeth Truss said an over-reliance on calculators meant that pupils were not getting the rigorous grounding in mental and written arithmetic that they needed to progress.

Dr Sprevak said reports about adverse impacts of technology "seem to chime with a deep-seated intuition that by relying on some piece of technology, our brain will somehow degenerate".

It comes after the British Chiropractic Association warned that youngsters are putting themselves at risk of neck and back pain by slumping over laptops.

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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