By Andrew P. Doan, MPH, MD, PhD
This is an older article, but an excellent reminder that technology executives delay the introduction of mobile devices, search engines, and digital media with their children. This makes a lot of sense neurobiologically. The brain takes about 25 years to completely mature. By delaying mobile devices, digital technologies, gaming, and learning apps to the ages of 14, the brain develops higher executive functions like critical thinking, creativity, writing, and communication skills. The introduction of technology after 14 still provides 11 more years of highly plastic brain development to pick up technology-related skill sets. Here are some quotes from the article.
- “But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.”
- “I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.” Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt.
- Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”
- And where advocates for stocking classrooms with technology say children need computer time to compete in the modern world, Waldorf parents counter: what’s the rush, given how easy it is to pick up those skills? “It’s supereasy. It’s like learning to use toothpaste,” Mr. Eagle said. “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.”
Richtel, M. (2011). A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute. The New York Times. Retrieved July 25, 2021 from: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html