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Tech age molds teen brains
PARENTS have good reason to feel overwhelmed by the digital revolution consuming their teenagers.
As far as the physiology of our brains goes, we adults will never keep up.
The adolescent brain is a natural wonder forged by evolutionary forces which have differentiated it from both the child and adult brain.
Although “adolescence” was barely acknowledged before the 1900s, and teenagers are often referred to as a modern social invention, our brains suggest otherwise. The teenage brain is distinct in its extraordinary capacity to adapt to the environment around it.
Imagine, then, what might be happening inside the heads of the first generation of “digital natives”?
In the United States, teenagers are averaging 8.5 hours a day of learning, playing and interacting via computers, mobile phones and other screen-based devices (which jumps to 11.5 hours if you allow for multi-tasking). In Australia, the comparable average screen time was 7 hours and 38 minutes in 2009.
Digital communication has ushered in more changes in the past 15 years than in the 570 years since Gutenberg’s printing press.
And teenagers are the world’s stand-out “early adopters” as the pace of technological change accelerates.
It took 38 years for radio to reach its first 50 million people, 20 years for the telephone, 13 years for television, four years for the World Wide Web, 3.6 years for Facebook and even less for Twitter. For Google + it was 88 days.