#581 Technology not damaging imagination

Student with iPad, photo by Lexie Flickinger, via Flickr Creative Commons

Student with iPad, photo by Lexie Flickinger, via Flickr Creative Commons

You know the old saying: If I had a (insert the domination that will get you rich quickest)…for every time someone told me…[e.g.: “technology is destroying children’s imagination”], I would have a fortune. We use that tired phrase a lot, and although I am a fan of technology, I remember when I worried about children.

That was back when I was a school librarian in Greece, New York. After every birthday or holiday, they brought me their new toys (Toy naming and the stories of children). I figured until they tossed out the commercial names and gave their toys new names, they were stuck in a rut of ad-inspired stories.

I was probably wrong. Researchers at Case Western University had the same concern, that children’s imaginations were weakening because they were involved in less unstructured play than they used to be. Add video games, tablets and computers into the mix, and surely youngsters were becoming less imaginative.

The researchers were wrong too. In a study published in the November 9, 2011 issue of the Creativity Research Journal, Sandra W. Russ and Jessica A. Dillon found:

Even though children have less time to play, cognitive processes that occur in play are continuing to develop. Whether these pretend abilities are being transferred to creative production is a key question for future investigation.

One study does not open or shut any hypothesis so parents should still be doing everything they can to encourage their children’s natural curiosity and creativity. Still, new technology has always drawn children’s attention and worried the adults who love them.

When I watch the grandchildren being so at ease with technology in spite of their tender ages, and then watch them exploring their world with such curiosity and attention, I relax. Children are sturdy. They are resilient. With love, stimulation and support, they thrive, whatever era they are born into.

So once again I was wrong, and once again that gives me hope.

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