Proved for the first time – the negative influence of screen media on a child's ability to form mental images
by Michaela Glöckler of ELIANT (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sebastian P. Suggate and Philipp Martzog professors of school education at the University of Regensburg, have researched and been able to prove that the capacity of children to form mental images is negatively influenced by the use of screen media. The results were published in the April 2020 edition of Developmental Science, the leading journal in the field of developmental psychology/educational psychology. They demonstrated the extent to which the development of a healthy thinking capacity in children is dependent on learning through sensorimotor activity. 266 children aged between three and nine years were investigated at an interval of ten months.
'Mental imagery' or the capacity to form mental images was significantly reduced by dependency on screen time. The researchers found that the ability to form mental images which is so fundamental to thinking, rests on two pillars – the active forming of images and a richness of sensorimotor experience. Because screen media provides them ready made, children have no need to form their own mental images. The capacity to form their own concepts is thereby repressed. There is in addition virtually no sensorimotor activity involved in sitting before a screen. These highly significant results show that the more screen time a child is subjected to the less able it is to form mental images.
Since screen time has been massively increased as a result of the Corona pandemic and not only at home but also in the school context, we need urgently to reflect on the burden we are placing on our children – particularly during their first nine years. This is the period when the sensorimotor skills and the accompanying brain capacities are developed.
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