Gopnick begins her column by asking "How does technology re-shape our children's minds and brains?" but never gets around to answering the question. She delves no further into the subject than to reference boyd's social work and conclusion to the effect that while it requires new considerations, the new social media simply enable teens to do what they have always done — form communities, flirt, gossip and rebel. "The kids are all right," she concludes, quoting the rock band The Who.
No, they aren't. The best research into the effect of digital technologies on the developing brain has been done by psychologist Jane Healy, author of Endangered Minds and Failure to Connect. Healy has found that screen-based devices compromise the integrity of the developing brain, disconnecting areas that support important functions such as sequential problem-solving, attention span and verbal reasoning, all of which are strengthened by reading. Healy is everything Gopnik and boyd are not. First, she has scientific credentials. Second, she is impartial. Third, her conclusions support common sense.
Speaking of the latter, all one has to do to assess the impact of what I prefer to call anti-social media on teens is watch them stand around in groups, texting rather than conversing. Or talk to a teen who keeps looking at her cellphone during the "conversation," during which she demonstrates her mastery of two- and three-word sentences.
Speaking as a subscriber, the Wall Street Journal really dropped the ball on this one "like, totally."
Family psychologist John Rosemond: www.johnrosemond.com.