Grandmothers Who Code

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Age, Gender, & Technology

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a blog by Sari Jozokos Morninghawk

Is The New Generation Re-Wired?

Technology & The Generation Gap (Part III)

March 31, 2018

There have been so many studies around video games and interactive media, especially in regards to children, that opposite points of view, (interactive–media–is–GOOD, interactive–media–is–BAD) have been clearly demonstrated. So how do we know if we should limit interactive media and games for our youth? We don't. What we do know for sure, is that video games and interactive media are here to stay. We also know that developing brains are being changed by our new technology. In other words, technology is playing a part in human evolution.

The New Brain

Neuroscientists have shown that video gaming has an effect on brain size and connectivity by stimulating neurogenesis, the growth of neurons in the brain. One study noted that improvements were seen in the parts of the brain that involve functions such as spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning, and fine motor skills. The changes were more pronounced in gamers who had a more passionate desire to play the video game. The study demonstrates the direct causal link between video gaming and a volumetric brain increase, proving that specific brain regions are actually trained by video games. What does this mean for the generation growing up with the current interactive technology?

Read more…

We've all been in the grocery store and seen a frustrated mother hand her smartphone to the baby fidgeting and whining in the grocery carriage. Mom wants to keep the child occupied while finishing the shopping. The amazing thing is the way the baby takes the phone and makes it “go.” A child, any child, is naturally curious and explorative. She gets the phone — which in reality is a pocket–sized computer, and touches the screen. She swipes it, shakes it, and rotates it causing all sorts of visual reponses. She learns to find things through pure experimentation. Using cause and effect analysis, the baby finds what she wants on the phone again and again. This is teaching the baby just as much as any educational toy. And just like those well-conceived toys, the technology is affecting the developing brain.

Through technology, the new generation learns how to solve problems, use data, and more easily make predictions. Schools like Quest to Learn are taking advantage of this new educational paradigm using game-based learning. They believe video games are key to a new kind of literacy.

A New Kind of Literacy

Most people who did not grow up with interactive technology think of literacy as the ability to read written words and understand what's been read. But it is becoming increasingly clear during these modern technological times that to achieve success, a person needs to have a broader educational foundation than reading. Digital literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, and information literacy are just as important to the advancement and happiness of a young person today as the ability to glean information from a book was to previous generations. New ways of thinking, new ways of looking at the environment and the world, new ways of communicating are just some of the results of a new kind of literacy.

So in conclusion, yes, the new generation is re-wired with a different brain due to the exposure to our current technology. Even if they don't attend a school like Quest to Learn, their living with the technology of today will teach them the necessities in the world which requires a new set of basic skills. They will find that they have an innate ability to multi-task, and the ability to take in a whole system with copious amounts of data. They will be able to use that information to easily predict outcomes in that system. Welcome to the new world.

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Sari Jozokos Morninghawk has been writing code professionally since 1994. For the past two decades she has worked as a front-end engineer with a specialty in user experience (UX). Having worked at several start-ups as well as a number of large corporations, Morninghawk’s background has given her a wealth of work-place experiences regarding age and gender. View resumé

She has volunteered for Girls Who Code helping to close the gender gap in technology, and Citizen Schools creating opportunity for success through hands-on after school classes for kids in middle school, where she designed a program to teach sixth and seventh-graders how to build a website.

Morninghawk is an active grandmother of three children (who don’t necessarily have an interest in technology). Together they enjoy movies, board games, cooking, outdoor activities, arts & crafts, books, and hanging out.

Sari Jozokos Morninghawk and grandchildren