‘Technology taking kids away from nature’

May 24th, 2009 - 11:40 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 24 (ANI): While technological advancements have proved to be a boon to kids in many facets, the interaction is purportedly taking them away from the real nature, says a researcher.

According to Nathan G. Freier, assistant professor of HCI in the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication, with a joint appointment in Information Technology, at Rensselaer, through past centuries, technologies have offered enormous benefits to children.

But now is the time to strike a balance in terms of interaction.

“Technology is good and it can help our lives, but let’s not be fooled into thinking we can live without nature,” said co-researcher Peter H. Kahn Jr.

“We are losing direct experiences with nature. Instead, more and more we’re experiencing nature represented technologically through television and other media.

“Children grow up watching Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, playing with robotic pets, and taking virtual tours of the Grand Canyon on their computers.

“That’s probably better than nothing. But as a species we need interaction with actual nature for our physical and psychological well-being,” he added.

Freier focussed his research on human-computer interaction with emphasis on technologies for children, social robotics, and value sensitive design.

Traditionally, the field has considered the human relationship to technology to be one of ‘use’; but the field is expanding to address the many facets of human-technology interaction that include a focus on emotional, social, and moral experiences, which account for this complexity in the design and evaluation process.

According to their research, today’s technology is more sophisticated and invasive.

Children play multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), which allows for large numbers of players to interact by controlling and developing their fictional characters in adventurous game settings.

Also, video games dominate children’s media entertainment. In more recent years, inexpensive robot pets and online virtual pets have become increasingly popular.

“It is obvious that today’s children are coming of age in yesterday’s science fiction future,” Freier said.

“Children today know no other way of being, no other way of existing in the world. Our faith in the benefits of those who play a significant role in shaping our technological force is often balanced with the fears of the unknown and uncontrollable sinister force embedded within the technologies, often unbeknownst to the designers themselves.

“This process of balance - which leads to children’s intellectual, social, and moral development - will be, and already is, strongly shaped by the technological environments children inhabit.

“Thus we need to design our technological environments wisely,” he added. (ANI)

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