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Exploring the effect of electronic media on early childhood development

Exploring the effect of electronic media on early childhood development

 Exploring the effect of electronic media on early childhood development

Digital technology plays a significant role in the educational aspect and daily lives of children. Digital technology needs software and an internet connection to function. Children begin using digital technology as early as primary school (Liu et al., 2021). There is increasing evidence that children are exposed to various media sources such as mobile phones, video game consoles, computers, and television (Liu et al., 2021). Electronic devices such as video games are popular among children to pass exams and entertainment. The annual U.S retail sales of video games

were over 15 billion dollars in 2018 (Chang et al., 2018). A recent survey demonstrates that over 80% of homes within children between 2 and 16 years have computers, and 71% have video games. 88% of children play video games regularly (Paulus et al., 2021). Children between the ages of 2 and 7 years spend an average of 5 to 6 hours per week on video games, while 9th and 10th-grade students spend 9 hours per week (Paulus et al., 2021). Video games are common in early childhood and among young adults. A discussion of video game use among early childhood highlights how virtual reality impacts their thought process and magical thinking.

This investigation seeks to understand how children's thought process of what is real or unreal is formed after interacting with electronic media. Taylor and Acic (2021) describe magical thinking as the assumption that action, words, or thoughts can attain a certain physical effect. Magical thinking is the psychosomatic dynamic of associating an action or event to another unconnected action or event. Piagetian egocentric stage posits that this kind of thinking causes children to assume that their actions impact everyone around

them. Children choose magical thinking when they are in a state of error or confusion. For instance, children may believe that they can fly after watching a movie about humans with superpowers. Taylor and Acic (2021)) describe how an infant in her investigation believed that turning in circles made his favorite television show appear. Children's beliefs, actions, and thoughts are not associated with reality when they think magically.

Research Section

Although digital media promote early childhood development, not all electronic media focus on children's developmental needs. Controversial surrounding the topic of digital media and its effect on early childhood development exist. Vittryp et al. (2016) discovered that some education programs on television, such as Sesame Street, improved school readiness, pro-social behavior, vocabulary, and math skills among preschool children. According to Vittrup et al. (2016), digital programs

increase children's academic skills, and video games would help improve computer literacy, fine motor coordination, problem-solving skills, and visual attention in children. Yafie et al. (2020) developed experimental quantitive research to examine the impact of digital learning on cognitive development. The study involved 60 children aged between 4 and 5 years, with 30 children in the control group and 30 in the experimental group. The experimental group was introduced to learning media, which focuses on plants. The measuring instrument assessed

problem-solving, symbolic thinking, and logical thinking. Yafie et al. (2020) found the difference in cognitive development between the experimental and control groups. Electronic media has improved executive functioning development, such as action, inhabitation, problem-solving, planning, and attention among children.

While some studies support the use of digital media in childhood development, other studies demonstrate electronic media as a risk to early childhood development. Ebbeck et al. (2016) consider computers damaging to children's learning and development. Rodrigues et al. (2021) developed a cross-sectional study to determine whether the existence of various electronic media at home affected children’s sleep time on week and weekend days. The study found that electronic devices in preschool children was related

with high screen time and limited sleep per day. Liu et al. (2021) examined the impact of electronic media on early childhood’s behavioural and emotional problems among 2492 children aged four years. The used the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire to assess behavioural and emotional problems. The prevalence of behavioural and emotional problems was tested using Chi-square test. The study found that nearly 50% of the children

population were exposed to electronic media at the age of 6 months. The study also found a significant association between screen time with emotional problems, prosocial behaviour, inattention problems and aggression. Hite et al. (2019) found that video games caused triggered cognitive issues such as mental perspective and decreased academic activities among children. Evidence suggest that electronic media damages children’s learning and development.

Electronic media has a significant influence on children’s development and brain. Young adults' socio-affective and cognitive development goes through functional and brain changes where synaptic density peaks during childhood development. However, synaptic elimination is high among adolescence leading to the reduced quantity of synaptic in adulthood. Crone and Konijn (2018) consider media exposure a variable affecting synaptic pruning changes. Crone

and Konijn (2018) found that the brain activity in one group of adolescents was related to areas activated when experiencing salient emotion when the group was excepted from an online game. Their findings appear to support the relationship between social rejection and online gaming. Crone and Konijn (2018) also found that children accepted to social media and excluded from gaming had neural responses depicted in their ventral striatum, the brain region that responds to the reward system. The authors deduced that high activity level in the anterior

cingulate cortex, brain region account for cognition and emotion, was related to high self-esteem. Crone and Konijn's (2018) study reported high social activity among children aged 12-13 when donating cash online, demonstrating that children risked pro-social direction and social media perception. These findings support Hummer's (2015) argument that the amygdala was significantly high among adolescents when exposed to emotionally arousing stimuli. These studies support the altering influence of digital technology on the brain areas related to social, cognitive, and emotional development.

Piaget's theory of cognitive development describes magic thinking to which the construct of egocentrism is introduced. Egocentrism is defined as an individual operating from one's perspective without regard for the view of others. Piaget (1932) argues that egocentrism happens from birth until the establishment of logical thinking around seven. Egocentrism depicts a stage for children to transition from symbolic to logical thinking. This unconscious process transforms every

child's desire into reality through an illusion of an image (Myers, 2017). The first egocentrism, ontological, occurs when children do not differentiate subjective from objective. The second form, logical, occurs when children speak with a self-focus. Children also fail to comprehend spatial relations and relational concepts in logical egocentrism. Logical egocentrism sets a platform for the children to perceive the world from their views and consider

everyone to be reasoning. Rose et al. (2012) support that people tend to be egocentric in making a judgment when they do not compare themselves to others but focus on their standing. For instance, people appear to insist on their skills without accounting for their skills in task performance. Rose et al. (2012) associate this with the brain's inter-hemispheric interaction. The inter-hemispheric relation between the right and left brain hemispheres influences how an individual weighs information about the self and

others. Individuals with less degree of interaction between the right and left brain hemispheres tend to depict a limited level of egocentrism compared to people with a lower level of interaction between the hemispheres (Rose et al., 2012). Therefore, it can be argued that egocentrism entails the communication of brain structure during a comparative judgment.

Magical thinking happens when children fail to develop negative thoughts about others since they fear that these thoughts will manifest into reality. The children might be feeling a sense of guilt if the negative thoughts come true. This aligns with Piaget's objective permanence, which assumes that physical objects continue to exist after people can longer see them. Magical thinking projects the likelihood that mental-physical events can influence imagined objects. Hite et al. (2019) found

that children who participate in magical thinking believe that they can alter the object by wishing for change. Hite et al.'s study differentiated two aspects of imagined reality. First, the imagined physical aspect depicts objects existing and having the same dimensions, such as seeing dolls in a catalog and purchasing them. Second, fictional aspects describe suspending the properties of the physical world, such as dreaming of a flying

elephant. The psychoanalytic theory supports magical thinking to disrupt external reality by replacing it with innovative psychic reality. Children experience psychic reality as real as external reality making an invented reality become external reality when engaging in magical thinking. Electronic media, in this context, influence magical thinking by creating invented psychic reality and objects. When children interact with the magical event, they are likely to believe it depends on the child's cognitive development degree.

In summary, there are controversies surrounding digital media and its effect on early childhood development. Electronic media has improved executive functioning development, such as action, inhabitation, problem-solving, planning, and attention among children. Also, studies support that digital media stimulates cognitive performance among children. However, computers have been described as damaging to children's learning and development, with studies citing cognitive

limitations in linguistic development and socio-cultural influence in terms of isolation. The findings present evidence to support the altering impact of electronic device use on brain areas that are associated with social, emotional, and cognitive development. Media exposure has been demonstrated as a variable affecting changes in synaptic pruning.

Children's thought development is associated with reality. Piaget's theory of cognitive development describes magic thinking to which the construct of egocentrism is introduced. Piaget's cognitive development theory describes how magical thinking developed during the egocentric phase. It can be argued that egocentrism entails the communication of brain structure during a comparative judgment.

The findings of the examined study indicate that children are likely to believe the evidence of a magical event based on the level of their cognitive development. The children's desires during this stage become a reality. The main theme in these studies is that magical thinking entails children's thoughts that are not controlled by the laws of nature. This entails children's understanding of action, although beliefs are not real naturally. The

examined studies consider reality as what the children believe as real and what they perceive not real when interacting with digital media. Therefore, the children's ability to understand characters in electronic media is transformed into reality. When children perceive digital content to be real, they might apply it to the real world. Children's reaction to digital images might generate confusion about real and fantasy with technological growth. As video games appear to be real, the children may fail to differentiate between what they see on screen and real events.