Do devices fuel or stunt creativity? There's a modern-day elephant in the room … the growing body of evidence that excessive use of smart devices can have on children’s development. From smartphones to tablets, these ubiquitous devices have been associated with decreasing attention spans, higher rates of depression and anxiety and screen addiction.
But do they also affect children’s ability to be creative?
Developmental behaviour professor Jenny Radesky, says the lack of studies focused on creativity and child development means there are still many unknowns. What we do know is that screens take children away from unstructured play, outdoor time and daydreaming, which would impact on a child’s ability to create visual imagery.
She says games like Minecraft are essentially plot-free games where virtual cities can be built. But how does this compare with making an actual 3D Lego city? These apps also force children to play by the developer’s rules rather than allowing a child to have an original idea to explore and run with.
While we know there needs to be limits on what children are viewing and for how long, we also need to consider the positive aspects of digital technology and how it can enhance creativity. Do the apps and games lead them to recall information, build literacy, be more imaginative after they shut down the device and take the learnings into the real world?
She concludes that rather than a focus on which devices children are using and for how long, we should be asking another question. Instead, ask what content they’re viewing and does this engage them in creative expression?