Response By Gretel Dougherty
In a study by the College of William and Mary, researchers found that creativity scores among children (based on the Torrance Test) rose until 1990, when they began a steady decline. There are many things that influence creativity in children but perhaps the most glaring change was the invention and popularisation of many technologies we consider commonplace today such as the computer, television, and smartphone. For a long time, technology was deemed something for only adults or trained professionals to utilise, but it has been becoming steadily more accessible. In 2017 we often see children as young as 1 year old playing with a smartphone or tablet. Some kindergarteners own their own smartphone. The decline in creativity is partially because of technology.
When information is readily available at the click of a button, it makes problem solving obsolete. Thinking outside the box to get something is necessary to teach kids creativity. If there is nothing that is desired enough to innovate, creativity scores will drop. This can be detrimental to our society in the long run. Creative and curious children will grow up to make advances in environmental preservation, space exploration, our economy, and many other fields in ways that will not be possible without the fostering of unconventional thinking. While technology is a useful and necessary tool, it has gotten to a point where people use it rather than use their brains. But, children must learn to entertain themselves. If they do not, they will constantly be searching for outside stimuli rather than listening to themselves and fulfilling their own personal needs, even as they grow and develop. This can cause excessive substance use or seeking out unhealthy relationships which can be detrimental to our society as a whole. However, we should avoid restricting access too much, because it is true that technology can be a catalyst for creativity or a source of inspiration in the correct situation. Children should not have access to any technology at all until they are about eight years old. Elementary schoolers should not have smart phones. A phone should only be received when a child begins to leave the house without a parent regularly for work, unpredictable extracurriculars, or otherwise, typically around thirteen.
It is proven that excessive use of technology can impact the pace of development, and impede the formation of healthy familial relationships because when screens isolate people from each other. Children in elementary school use about 7.5 hours of entertainment technology per day. 75% of these children have TV’s in their bedrooms and 50% of homes in North America have the TV on all day according to a study performed by the Kaiser Foundation in 2010. Maybe this is a societal issue. The lower pay is for families, the longer parents must work per day. This contributes to chronic generalised exhaustion, which means that parents typically have less energy for interacting with their kids. As sad as this is, such is the direction our society is heading. In order to fix this, parents must consider what is more important, and our government must decide whether the short term or the long term is more important to focus on.