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In the discussion about media, the most common argument given in

favor of children’s media use is its educational value.

“More than 50% of parents said the most important reasons their
children watched TV was because they have them watch programs
that will help teach their children something, that it’s good for the
children’s brain development, or because watching TV is something
their children really enjoy doing.” — http://

For starters, let us consider a certain school district that has

implemented technology.

Here’s a recent article from the New York Times, titled, “In
classroom of future, stagnant scores.”

Kyrene school district, in Arizona, has decided to be innovative.

They’ve gone all out when it comes to educational media. Since
2005 they’ve spent nearly 33 million on educational technology. If
anywhere should be seeing some gains and improvement from
educational media, Kyrene school district should.

So…how’s it going?

“Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene,

even as statewide scores have risen.”

— New York Times, In Classroom of the Future, Stagnant Scores

“My gut is telling me we’ve had growth. But we have to have some
measure that is valid, and we don’t have that.” — David K. Schauer,
Kyrene superintendent

“The $10 million study of 15 educational software products is the

most extensive federal study yet to follow methods that the U.S.
Department of Education considers scientifically rigorous.” — –

What did they find?

“…no difference in academic achievement between students who

used the technology in their classrooms and youngsters who used
other methods.” —  http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/

“A review by the Education Department in 2009 of research on

online courses — which more than one million K-12 students are
taking — found that … policy makers “lack scientific evidence” of
their effectiveness. …much educational software is not an
improvement over textbooks.” — – New York Times, In Classroom
of the Future, Stagnant Scores

“There is insufficient evidence to spend that kind of money. …

There is no body of evidence that shows a trend line.” — – Larry
Cuban, Stanford University

“The data is pretty weak. It’s very difficult when we’re pressed to
come up with convincing data.” — – Tom Vander Ark, former
executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation and investor in educational technology companies.

Negative effects

1. Attention deficits

As children are conditioned to having something else hold their

attention, they lose the power to hold attention for themselves.

2. “Digital dementia”

“…a deterioration in cognitive abilities that is more commonly seen

in people who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness.” —
– http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/southkorea/

“A UCLA study found that about 14 percent of young people aged

between 18 and 39 complained of memory problems.” – http://

“Individuals who rely heavily on technology may suffer deterioration

in cerebral performance such as short term memory dysfunction.”
— http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-11-12/overuse-of-technology-

“Many children don’t memorize anything because they can Google

it.” – Manfried Sptizer

3. Brain imbalance and right-hemisphere damage

“Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the

balanced development of the brain. Heavy users are likely to
develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped
or underdeveloped.” – Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain
Centre in Seoul, told the JoongAng Daily newspaper. http://

Right-hemisphere damage

Difficulty with:
• Attention
• Perception
• Learning
• Memory
• Organization
• Insight
• Orientation
• Poor social communication
• Difficulty with recognition and expression of emotion
• Difficulty reasoning and problem solving

– ASHA, Wikipedia and other sources

“Damage to the right side of the brain is associated with deficits in

ability to concentrate, short attention, memory span, and emotional
disturbances, such as depression.” –

4. Anterior Cingulate Cortex damage

Anterior Cingulate Cortex

• Impulse control
• Decision making
• Emotion
• Controlling emotional responses
• Attention
• Motivation
• Error detection
• Center of the free will

Anterior Cingulate Cortex Damage:

• Depression
• Addictions (including drug)
• Poor emotional regulation
• Poor motivation
• Neuroticism
• Sensation-seeking
• Impulsivity
– Various sources
Media Multitasking

“Higher Media Multi-Tasking Activity Is Associated with Smaller

Gray-Matter Density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex.” – Loh KK,
Kanai R (2014) Higher Media Multi-Tasking Activity Is Associated
with Smaller Gray-
Matter Density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex.

“MEDIA MULTITASKING … is increasingly prevalent in modern

society and has been associated with decreased cognitive control
abilities as well as negative psychosocial impacts such as
depression and social anxiety, negative social well-being, and poor
academic performance.” – Loh KK, Kanai R (2014)Higher Media
Multi-Tasking Activity Is Associated with Smaller Gray-Matter
Density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex.

“[the] study revealed a significant relationship between media

multitasking and brain structure variations: Individuals who reported
higher amounts of media multitasking had smaller gray matter
density in the ACC. … Our main finding indicated that heavier
media multitaskers had smaller ACC volumes.” – Loh KK, Kanai R
(2014) Higher Media Multi-Tasking Activity Is Associated with
Smaller Gray-Matter Density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex.

“The ACC serves as a crucial nexus of information processing

pathways in the brain and has been implicated in sensorimotor,
nociceptive, higher cognitive and emotional/motivational processes.
… the ACC is generally thought to be involved in error or conflict
detection.” – Loh KK, Kanai R (2014) Higher Media Multi-Tasking
Activity Is Associated with Smaller Gray-Matter Density in the
Anterior Cingulate Cortex

“…heavy media multi-tasking was related to a reduced ability to

ignore distractions and focus on pertinent information—even after
accounting for potential differences in academic aptitude,
personality and performance on standard creativity and memory
tasks.” – https://teachingcenter.wustl.edu/2015/09/media-multi-
“Individuals who engage in heavier media multitasking are found to
perform worse on cognitive control tasks and exhibit more socio-
emotional difficulties. – Loh KK, Kanai R (2014) Higher Media Multi-
Tasking Activity Is Associated with Smaller Gray-Matter Density in
the Anterior Cingulate Cortex

“The pattern of brain structural differences obtained in the present

study was similar to the neural correlates of Internet addiction (IA).
Individuals with IA … were found to have decreased gray and white
matter densities in the ACC” – Loh KK, Kanai R (2014) Higher
Media Multi-Tasking Activity Is Associated with Smaller Gray-Matter
Density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex

So is media that educational? With all the negative effects, perhaps

it is not worth the risk?

“Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and

critical thinking.” – Paul Thomas, associate professor of education,
Furman University

“A blind trust that e-learning can replace good teachers often leads
to less-educated children; apps are substituting thinking and
cognitive capacity is shrinking.” – Hermann Maurer, Does the
Internet Make Us Stupid?

“…the more technology was used to teach a particular course, the

fewer the students who felt they were able to get something out of
that course.” – Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul A. Kirschner, Casper D.
Hulshof Technology in Education – What Teachers Should Know

Waldorf Schools

(I am not advocating for Waldorf Schools, but just using them as an

example of a tech-free educational environment which has very
good results.)

• Play
• Artistic work
• Songs
• Games
• Stories
• Outdoor time
• Practical tasks
• Cooking
• Cleaning
• Gardening

“The classroom is intended to resemble a home, with tools and toys
usually sourced from simple, natural materials that lend themselves
to imaginative play” – wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education

No media use!

“..use of [media] is understood to conflict with young children’s

developmental needs, media users tend to be physically inactive,
and these media often contain inappropriate or undesirable content
which may hamper rather than exercise the imagination.” –

Some schools tours eagerly show parents the smartboards,

learning labs and provided iPads as evidence of a cutting-edge
learning environment. Many are following the lead of The U.S.
Department of Education which advocates technology use in the
classroom in order to “support thinking, stimulate motivation,
promote equity and prepare students for the future.” The money
spent on these efforts is, in itself, impressive, but is all this glowing
interaction indicative of a more enriched learning environment?

While the efforts may impress, teaching with tech has yielded
disappointing results. The Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development, which released a comprehensive study in 2015,
Students, Computers and Learning, has found, “Most countries
that invested heavily in education related IT equipment did not
witness an appreciable improvement in student achievement over
the past 10 years.”

When it comes to PISA scores, the same study notes that

international technology investments, “are not linked to improved
student achievement in math, reading or science.” In fact, those
with less classroom tech had better, more progressive reading
results on PISA tests. But perhaps the most powerful take-away
from the research is encapsulated in this quote:

“Computer use in classrooms and at home can displace other

activities that are conducive to learning.”

“It is this displacement, of proven learning activities in the

classroom, that is disconcerting to Waldorf Educators. Unlike
flashy tech, movement, art, music, and note taking by hand, are all
scientifically proven to support brain development when integrated
into the curriculum. Yet sadly these are often the underfunded
programs in many schools. It may be argued that these subjects
are less valued because they do not fill as many pockets with


“Waldorf Education is not anti-tech as some suspect. The Waldorf

philosophy on technology is based on a developmentally
appropriate curriculum, founded on the understanding that every
child goes through three distinct phases of development: infancy
and early childhood (birth to 7); middle childhood (7 to 14); and
adolescence (14 to 21). Waldorf high school, and some middle
school, students use technology as a teaching tool, but it has no
place in the Waldorf elementary and early childhood education. For
children under the age of twelve, the focus remains on hands-on
learning of core subjects along with music training, play, outdoor
education, cursive handwriting, storytelling, and art.”

It should be noted that even tech executives in Silicon Valley see

the wisdom of this low-tech approach for younger students. In the
New York Times Article, article, A Silicon Valley School That
Doesn’t Compute, a parent who is a former Intel and Microsoft
executive explains simply why this approach makes sense for his
three children, “Engagement is about human contact, the contact
with the teacher, the contact with their peers.”


“The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-

classroom school here [the Waldorf School of the Peninsula]. So do
employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and
Hewlett-Packard.” – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/

“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in

grammar school. The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach
my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.” – Alan Eagle.
Computer scientist, executive communications, Google

“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly

concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have
the same rules. That’s because we have seen the dangers of
technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that
happen to my kids.” – Chris Anderson, CEO 3D Robotics
“They haven’t used it [the iPad]. We limit how much technology our
kids use at home.” – Steve Jobs

“It’s super easy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste. At Google and
all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as
possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they
get older.” – Alan Eagle. Computer scientist, executive
communications, Google

How do the students feel?

“For three weeks, we ate our way through fractions. When I made
enough fractional pieces of cake to feed everyone, do you think I
had their attention?” – Cathy Waheed. Teacher, Waldorf School of
the Peninsula

“You can look back and see how sloppy your handwriting was in
first grade. You can’t do that with computers because all the letters
are the same. Besides, if you learn to write on paper, you can still
write if water spills on the computer or the power goes out.” – Fin
Heilig, Student, Waldorf School of the Peninsula

“Being able to think creatively and imagination are much more

important than just being able to know how to Google something.” –
Waldorf School Student Jack Wurtz

Top 10 “tech ranked” schools in the US

• College readiness average – 34.7%
• Math proficiency average – 64.9%
• English proficiency average – 81.2%
• National ranking average – 1189

– according to USNews rankings

“Technology is a distraction when we need literacy, numeracy and

critical thinking.” – Paul Thomas, associate professor of education,
Furman University
Screen vs. Reality

“I’ve worked clinically with over 1,000 teens over the past decade
plus and one of the most amazing things that I observed was that
kids raised from an early age on a high-tech/high-screen diet
suffered from what seemed to be a digital malaise. They were,
almost universally, what I like to call “uninterested and
uninteresting.” Bored and boring, they lacked a natural curiosity and
a sense of wonder and imagination that non-screen kids seemed to
have. They didn’t know—or care to know—about what was
happening around them in the world. All that seemed to drive them
was a perpetual need to be stimulated and entertained by their
digital devices.” – Dr. Nicholas Kardaras

“Children learn to tie shoelaces later than ever before. Today’s

children now learn how to operate complex technology long before
they know how to tie shoe laces. They understand navigation paths
and algorithms – yet still don’t know how to make a knot.” – http://

Damaging a Child’s Sense of Reality

“…children develop their sense of what’s real and what isn’t—what

psychologists call “reality testing”— between the ages of three and
ten. If they are exposed to reality-blurring imagery during that key
developmental stage, it compromises their ability to discern reality.”
– Dr. Nicholas Kardaras

“Kids’ brains develop during key developmental windows when they

engage their active imagination in such things as creative play.
These windows are when the body builds the most neuronal
connections. Kids who are just passively stimulated by a glowing
screen don’t have to do the neural heavy lifting to create those
images. The images are provided for them, thus stunting their own
creative abilities.” – Dr. Nicholas Kardaras https://www.vice.com/

1. Overstimulating

“We worry that children’s overall development might be delayed

because of biological or environmental deficits. However, research
tells that these concerns are not the only ones that place children at
risk for developmental problems. We must also make sure that our
children do not become over or inappropriately stimulated.” – http://

“There is considerable evidence that the types and intensity of

visual and auditory stimuli can greatly affect very young children’s
neural connections, and thus have lasting impacts on brain
development.” –http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/articles/research-

“Compared to real life, many television programs aimed at young

children have rapid image and sound changes that, although they
are extremely interesting for children, can over-stimulate their
senses and brain. For every hour of TV young children watch per
day, their risk of having attentional problems increases by almost
10%.” – http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/articles/research-to-

“If a child’s brain gets habituated to that pace and to the extreme
alertness… the child ultimately may find the realities of the world
underwhelming, understimulating.” – Dr. Dimitri Christakis,
pediatrician, University of Washington, http://www.nytimes.com/

2. Attention-grabbing/addicting

“The kind of concentration that children bring to video games and

television is not the kind they need to thrive in school or elsewhere
in real life. It’s not sustained attention in the absence of rewards. It’s
sustained attention with frequent intermittent rewards.” – Dr.
Christopher Lucas, associate professor of child psychiatry at New
York University School of Medicine, http://www.nytimes.com/

“The developers strap beta-testing teens with galvanic skin

responses, EKG, and blood pressure gauges.  If the game doesn’t
spike their blood pressure to 180 over 140, they go back and tweak
the game to make it have more of an adrenaline-rush effect. The
problem is that adrenaline rush affects what’s called the
Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis and creates the fight-or-flight
adrenal response.” – Dr. Nicholas Kardaras https://www.vice.com/


“Kids are so habituated to their hyper-stimulating and dopamine-

activating immersive screen reality that they choose to stay in the
digital Matrix. The reason why this effect is more powerful on
children than adults … is that children still don’t have a fully-
developed frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls
executive functioning, decision making, and impulse control.” – Dr.
Nicholas Kardaras https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/how-screen-

“[Children] don’t have the impulse control and “consequential

thinking” parts of their brains developed. Adding to the problem,
research shows that both drug use and excessive screen usage
actually stunts the frontal cortex and reduces the grey matter in that
part of the brain. … So not only are [games] addicting, but that
addiction perpetuates itself by negatively impacting the part of the
brain that can help with impulsivity and good decision making.” – Dr.
Nicholas Kardaras, https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/how-screen-

“The key is to prevent your 4-, 5- or 8-year-old from getting hooked

on screens to begin with. That means Lego instead of Minecraft;
books instead of iPads; nature … instead of TV.” – Dr. Nicholas
Kardaras http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-

3. Not real-world communication

“…parents spend an average 3.5 minutes per week participating in

meaningful conversation with their children.” – Turcotte, Martin.
Time spent with family during a typical workday 1986 to 2005.
Statistics Canada
“…each additional hour of television exposure was also associated
with a decrease of 770 words the child heard from an adult.” –
Christakis, D. A., Gilkerson, J., Richards, J. A., Zimmerman, F. J.,
Garrison, M. M., Xu, D., Gray, S. & Yapanel, U. (2009). Audible
Television and Decreased Adult Words, Infant Vocalizations,
and Conversational Turns. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent

“An electronic machine of whatever description does not engage in

two way conversation, which children need to become confident
communicators.” – Annette Stock, speech, language, and literacy
specialist, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/rotorua-daily-post/news/

“Play with electronic toys is associated with decreased quantity and

quality of language input compared with play with books or
traditional toys. To promote early language development, play with
electronic toys should be discouraged.” – JAMA Pediatrics.
Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity
and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication

“If children are left to receive the language from electronics, and not
have the opportunity to use language to express themselves, their
speech and language could be considerably delayed.” – Annette
Stock, speech, language, and literacy specialist, http://

4. Not real-world interaction

“The further and further children become immersed in the virtual

world, the harder it is for them to cope with the problems and
challenges of real life.” – Dr Chris Rowan “Mommy, Pretend I’m
Playing a Game on my iPad!”

Children of Yesteryear….
• Played outside
• Plenty of physical exercise
• Helped with the daily work inside and out
• Learned by exploration
• Experienced real-life consequences
• Learned with pencil, paper, textbooks, and a human teacher

Children of Today
• Playing on smartphone/tablet
• Sedentary/indoors/TV viewing
• Work often replaced by screen-based entertainment
• Spoon-fed pre-baked creativity
• Just press “reset”, or “ctrl Z”. No real consequences felt.
• E-Books, interactive whiteboards, educational games

Children who play outside

• More fit and healthy
• Stronger immune systems
• More active imaginations
• More creative
• Reduced stress/lower anxiety
• Less aggressive/violent behavior
• Increased attention span
• Better cognitive functioning

Fresh Air
• Stronger immune system
• Fewer allergies
• Lower incidence of asthma
• Improves oxygen flow to
• Contains phytoncides
“Phytoncides are antimicrobial allelochemic volatile organic
compounds derived from plants.” –

“…participants showed…lower blood pressure and lower amounts

of the stress hormone cortisol — when they spent time in the forest
rather than in the city.” – http://www.livestrong.com/article/436651-
“…the forest environment enhanced human natural killer (NK) cell
activity, the number of NK cells, and intracellular anti-cancer
proteins in lymphocytes.” – International journal of
immunopathology and pharmacology. Effect of phytoncide from
trees and human natural killer cell function

“Phytoncide exposure significantly increased NK activity and the

percentages of NK, perforin, granulysin, and granzyme A/B-
expressing cells, and significantly decreased the percentage of T
cells, and the concentrations of adrenaline and noradrenaline.” –
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology.
Effect of phytoncide from trees and human natural killer cell

• Provides vitamin D
• Improves eye health
• May reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease
• Raises serotonin levels
• Positively effects sleep by adjusting circadian rhythm and
melatonin levels

“There are but few who realize that, in order to enjoy health and
cheerfulness, they must have an abundance of sunlight, pure air,
and physical exercise. We pity little children who are kept confined
indoors when the sun is shining gloriously without. Clothe your boys
and girls comfortably and properly. . . . Then let them go out and
exercise in the open air, and live to enjoy health and happiness. The
pale and sickly grain-blade that has struggled up out of the cold of
early spring puts out the natural and healthy deep green after
enjoying for a few days the health-and-life-giving rays of the sun.
Go out into the light and warmth of the glorious sun. . . . and share
with vegetation its life-giving, healing power.”-The Health Reformer
April 1, 1871 https://m.egwwritings.org/it/book/504.181#181

• self-confidence
• self-esteem
• patient
• persevering
• improved science understanding
• better test scores
• overall better learners

"To live in the country would be very beneficial to them; an active,

out-of-door life would develop health of both mind and body. They
should have a garden to cultivate, where they might find both
amusement and useful employment. The training of plants and
flowers tends to the improvement of taste and judgment, while an
acquaintance with God's useful and beautiful creations has a
refining and ennobling influence upon the mind, referring it to the
Maker and Master of all.” Adventist Home, page 142.1

“In connection with your home, have a garden if possible, where

your children can work and where you can work with them. So
instruct them and so arrange their work that their spare time will not
be spent in idleness. Give them something definite to do, and let
them feel that they are doing something to help father and mother
to sustain the family. …Let all act a part according to their years…
they will have clear minds. They will be able to reason for
themselves, and will not accept that which this one says or what
that one says without some proof.” -Review and Herald, February
17, 1910 par. 6

“Students who are actively engaged in garden projects tend to

enjoy learning and show improved attitudes towards education.”-
Canaris, 1955;Dirks and Orvis, 2005

Physical activity

• improve overall mental health and quality of life

• enhance brain function and cognition
• improve behavior
• improve concentration
• increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain
• increase levels of norepinephrine and endorphins resulting in a
reduction of stress and an improvement of mood
• increase growth factors that help to create new nerve cells and
support synaptic plasticity

– Physical Activity and Performance at School. Journal of the

American Medical Association of Pediatrics, Jan. 2012

Useful Work
• Teaches cause-to effect reasoning
• Hand-eye coordination
• Problem solving skills
• Perseverance
• Time-management
• Discipline
• Communication skills

“The training of attention in tasks at home transfers to academics

later in life.” – Dr. Michael Posner, Dr. Frances Friedrich

“…kids are more prone to addictive escape if they feel alone,

alienated, purposeless and bored.” – Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, http://

Children who pretend and imagine things:

• have better social competence
• experience better language development
• have higher IQ
• are better at problem solving
• are more patient
• are more perseverant
• are better connection making

• Highly Addicting
• Many health risks
• Eye damage
• Negative effects from blue light
• Interactive media often more damaging than TV
• Educational media not helping
• Causing attention deficits
• “Digital dementia”
• Brain imbalance and right-hemisphere damage
• Anterior Cingulate Cortex damage
• Overstimulating
• Not real-world communication
• Not real-world interaction

“The human brain needs quiet downtime to organize itself and

consolidate learning.”- Jane Healy, Ph.D Education Psychology.

“Your Child’s Growing Minds 31Quietness, calmness, and freedom

from artificial excitement build strength in the immature child.” – Dr.
Raymond Moore. School Can Wait, 81

“The more quiet and simple the life of the child—the more free from
artificial excitement and the more in harmony with nature—the more
favorable it is to physical and mental vigor and to spiritual strength.”
– Child Guidance, 139