Families of Country Day - The Winstons

Jim Winston, parent of Hunter, 4th grade, and Aiden, 2nd grade, sees life through the lens of a parent and as a PhD. Psychologist. Years ago, he began researching the effects of technology on adolescent development. Read more below about why Jim brought acclaimed author, Nicholas Carr to our community to share “The Cognitive Toll of Smartphone Dependency.”
This is our fifth year at Miami Country Day School, my oldest son having started in Senior Kindergarten and now thriving in fourth grade. I’m a parent who likes to walk my sons into school, enjoying the connections with teachers and staff and getting a feel for the school environment. Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of Upper School students absorbed in their phones, lost to the actual world around them. Some would accidentally bump into us on the walk in and would say, “sorry,” without looking up from their phone.

As a PhD. Psychologist with many years of direct experience in the field of addiction, this set off alarm bells and prompted me to start researching the effects of technology, especially on adolescent development. What I found and continue to find is concerning. An enormous amount of research has been conducted over the last seven years, in particular since the percentage of Americans who own “smart” phones has risen above 50%. The effects of extended use on adolescents, and adults, is disturbing in every category of human development - neurobiologically, psychologically and socially.

I’m a firm believer in education and the powerful effects information can have in terms of altering behavior, especially in adolescents. This research, coupled with a desire to inform a larger audience prompted me to contact Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows, among other books, and bring him to Miami Country Day to share his understanding and research with the school community.

I’ve been struck since his talk by the conversation that’s been generated around the issue of technology with both faculty and staff. I’ve appreciated the administration’s openness to new information and their willingness to talk about the school’s stewardship responsibility with this new technology, especially given how woven in the fabric of everyone’s lives it is. To me, that’s the hallmark of a forward thinking educational institution.
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