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Friday, May 18, 2018

Technology is not that cool

Por MRod

When Belinda Parmar founded her company, Lady Geek - a consultancy to bring technology to women - she used to think that technology was a way to democratize the world. Her perception on the matter has changed. Research and personal experience have led her to assume the evils of using technology, especially for children.

She earned the nickname of "Lady Geek" for her constant visits to schools to encourage girls about the technological world, and even received from Queen Elizabeth II the Order of the British Empire to involve more women in the industry. Belinda Parmar is still an enthusiast of technology, and of the freedom and benefits that technology offers us. However, she has known its dark side firsthand. And she worries about how it can affect children.

Equipped with new research and thanks to her own personal experience, she has just launched a new campaign to prevent adults and children: #TheTruthAboutTech. Parmar has no qualms talking about what motivated her to get involved in this project: "I have a son who is addicted to video games, I have a nephew who spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital because he refused to go to school; he just wanted to play video games all day," tells the expert to BBC. "I've seen the ugly side of technology and social networks," she explains. "And the truth is that we cannot control it anymore, it controls us." With this terrifying phrase, Parmar adds to several technology lovers who are witnessing how it is changing it all, for bad.

Neuroscience has shown that the cognitive development of a young person continues until age 25. From the moment we are born until that age, emotional maturity, the perception of our own image and personal criteria change until the prefrontal cortex of the brain develops completely. During all that time, children are consuming technology, social networks and video games, often without adult supervision. Parmar observed research in this area, such as those of neuroscientist Susan Greenfield, and assures that this is the potential damage that "junk technology” can cause children. It incites them to desensitization and aggression. "Watching violent video games will not turn your child into a murderer," says Parmar, "but when they play, they are led to trivialize violence."

In video games, bad behavior is not punished. If you make a mistake, you have another life. What will the children learn from all this? "Not much, to begin with, they will not develop skills like empathy," says Parmar. Also, they can develop an obsession. Parmar says that 5% of children are addicted to video games. The expert adds that it is essential to understand why some children can have a “perfectly healthy relationship with technology, while others become pathologically addicted to it."

The specialist is aware that convincing people of the demons of technology is not an easy task. "It's not like obesity: everyone knows that obesity is bad for us, we can campaign against it. The problem with technology is that it has many benefits and positive aspects related to it."