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Use of digital media in early chilhood can harm children

Thu, 22 Dec 2016 | By NNA staff

The doctors Dr. Michaela Glöckler and Prof. Manfred Spitzer warn against the use of digital media at too early an age. Both support a petition calling for investment in constructive education.


DORNACH/SWITZERLAND (NNA) – The paediatrician and head emeritus of the Medical Section at the Goetheanum in Switzerland, Dr Michaela Glöckler, and the neuroscientist Prof. Manfred Spitzer have warned about the dangers of the use of digital media at too early an age.

Both doctors are asking for support for a petition calling for children to be allowed the space for healthy development in early childhood.

The petition, “No to the digital kindergarten! Yes to constructive educational investments!” is supported by the ELIANT Alliance, the Alliance for Childhood, the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education (IASWECE) und der international Waldorf kindergarten association. 

In the first years of life, in particular, it was crucial that contact with the real environment should not be displaced by digital media, the initiators of the petition warn. “The virtual context of learning through media means that we are prevented from engaging with our real surroundings through our body in a holistic way,” said Dr Glöckler.

Digital education in early childhood represented a “mass experiment without any scientific grounding”, she added. The petition was not meant as a criticism of digital technology but as an argument that it should be used at the right time.

Self-directed activity

One of the most important results of brain research in recent years was the evidence that children best learned dexterity, walking, speaking and thinking through self-directed activity – by trial and error, free play and imitation in direct contact with others, the petition argues.

Brains developed by being used actively: “When a child is observing, discovering, examining, listening, touching, smelling, tasting they develop compassion and sympathy as well as the capacity of thinking, speaking and acting. Every human self-determined activity is accompanied by constructive brain activity. And is at the same time the incentive for further development.”

The petition can be signed from anywhere. If there are enough signatures in a given country, they can form the starting point for activities to protect early childhood there. In addition to the signature campaign, a press conference and other activities are planned for 2017.

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Item: 161222-01EN Date: 22 December 2016 

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