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Cranbrook School Lecture Review:  The iGeneration

Multi-tasking is a myth, failures can be nurtured and our brains are wired for biological buzzes.

These were some of the ideas presented to over 200 people who attended the Queen’s Hall Theatre this month to hear international speaker Nicola Morgan talk about issues affecting teenagers today.

The award-winning author of books such as The Teenage Guide to Friends reassured parents that the point of adolescence is independence and teenagers’ shift of focus from parents to peers is a vital part of that, though it can cause conflict between parents and teens.

In addressing multi-tasking, Morgan explained that the brain has limited “bandwidth” and can easily be distracted by movement. Screens take advantage of this by sending alerts, which take up a part of the brain’s bandwidth, and make focused concentration very difficult. In fact, by multi-tasking you are actually practising being distracted.

Morgan says all children learn from failure and having the chance to fail helps build their resilience. In sympathising with parents who find it hard to watch their children fail, Nicola Morgan encouraged them to move away from “helicopter parenting” towards “safety-net parenting”, as the over-protective strategy of helicopter parenting can damage children’s resilience.

All humans are social animals and positive social interactions produce dopamine, one of the reward chemicals in the brain. Thus social interactions on screens give the brain lots of rewards and again draw us back to our screens.

Parents should know the facts, not demonize screens and be role models for their children: switching off screens an hour and a half before bedtime and encouraging single rather than multi-tasking.

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