The first article states that researchers have shown certain negative effects on the learning and social development of toddlers that use mobile devices. Basically, they say that more research is needed to determine anything but the article implies that early use of devices can impede the development of empathy and problem solving. The question is asked, if children will lose their ability to develop internal mechanisms of self-regulation. The writer seems to say that researchers are implying negative impacts on children and parenting rather than stating those conclusions as researched evidence. The tone of the article seems to express deep concern about the prevalence of device wielding toddlers.
The second article is apparently a response to the first article or articles like it. The author says that the first article originally stated that toddlers would get brain damage from device use. This assertion is not in the edition that we read but is the main focus of the second article, with the writer lamenting the misinformation of the idea that researchers have shown device use to damage the brain of toddlers. He continues to criticize science journalists and PR offices for sensationalizing, decontextualizing and simply misrepresenting actual research. This article doesn’t actually conflict with the ideas stated in the first article about devices impeding social emotional development.
The talk with Dean Shareski, Jonathan Becker University of Virginia and Justin Reich from Harvard University highlights the interest and concerns about research as a tool to guide, drive or inform instructional decision-making.
The conversation highlights that the ideas of how teachers should use research and even what constitutes evidence worthy of driving decisions are clearly not universally agreed upon. Becker mentions a long-time teacher who uses observation over decades as an example of legitimate evidence to form decisions whereas Reich seems to prefer more formalized analysis.
In the devices and toddler polemic it’s clear that not only what the researchers are stating but also what would constitute research in that area finds no agreement.
What is a teacher to do? We want to use research-based strategies to legitimize our decisions but research itself is a fluid concept and can be manipulated to fit an agenda or preconception.I work in a school that uses ABA as a research-based approach to behavior management and modification. Just today we did a PD session where the instructor emphasized the need to get agreement on what the behavior to be modified actually is. We have seen ABA work very well in our school. We have also seen students spend years on programs, gain skills but never achieve true integration. We have had our successes but not universally. To me the take away is that education is a process, there is no silver bullet. Organizations and individuals, some profit seeking, may have agendas, strongly held beliefs, egos to satisfy and a number of other considerations that don’t necessarily foster crystal clear truths about how to best educate children. Therefore, as our professor’s goal for this section states we need to be critical consumers of research and use our hard earned “phronesis” when making decisions about our students is right on the mark.
On the issue of how devices are impacting our children and society, do we really need to do a baseline, create a control and experimental group, take data over time and assess with inter-observer agreement to form an opinion? Please see the pics above and below for my answer.