There is no doubt that technology has had considerable benefits to our society as its utilization and popularity has increased dramatically over the years. On the contrary, it has also had some not-so-desirable impacts over time. As technology’s role in our lives has increased overtime, our critical thinking and analysis skills have significantly declined during this same time. In other words, technology and critical thinking tend to have a counteracting influence on most people. Unfortunately, this is especially true for young people, like teens and tweens.
What is critical thinking?
‘Thinking’ has been described as the capacity to reflect, reason, and draw conclusions based on our experiences, knowledge, and insights. It has also been referred to as “what makes us human,” enabling us to communicate, create, and advance. Thinking encompasses many aspects of who we are, such as observing, learning, remembering, questioning, judging, innovating, arguing, deciding, and acting.
Moreover, ‘critical thinking’ is generally thought of as a mode of thinking in which one improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing his or her thought. In order to be considered critical thinking, the thinking must be self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective.
How has technology affected tweens and teens critical thinking and problem solving skills?
While technology has certainly proved its many benefits over the years, it has also become evident that as technology advances, it may be hindering the way the human brain develops, especially in terms of critical thinking and problem solving skills in young adults.
1. Decreased Attention
One of the ways in which critical thinking and problem solving have been hindered is with diminished attention in teens and tweens. Attention is pretty much the gateway to thinking. Think about it, if you have no attention span, is it possible for you to think about something? And not just have a thought flash through your brain for a split second, but REALLY think about it. Without attention, other aspects of thinking such as perception, memory, learning, creativity, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making are greatly hindered or not even there at all. In other words, the ability to focus and pay attention, plays a significant role in the growth and developmental success of young people.
2. Reading vs. Technology
Various studies and research have found that attention is directly influenced and greatly shaped by the environment in which it is used. For example, in the past, children spent a great deal of their free time reading, which contained very little or no distractions, required intense attention, and allowed for creative imagination. Nowadays, children and teens spend most of their free time watching television, playing on tablets, or socializing on their cellphone or computer. These things, in comparison to reading, have a completely different effect on attention. They offer visual stimuli and distractions, allowing for fragmented attention and little or no need for imagination or memory.
Now let’s take a closer look at how technology is so different from reading, in terms of effects on the brain. Reading a book in a quiet, slow-paced setting with few distractions allows your brain to focus solely on the reading and think deeply about the information that is being provided to you from the book. Conversely, using the Internet at a high-speed pace and surrounded by many other distractions, causes your focus to be extremely fleeting.
Overall, studies show that reading for pleasure develops and enhances imagination, reflection, creativity, attention, and critical thinking in a way that technology never could.
3. The Internet
It is an undisputed fact that most of us habitually look to the internet for help with information, facts, answers, knowledge, or what have you. This is especially true among tweens and teens in this day and age. Although the internet allows society to gain knowledge and increase productivity, at the same time, it tends to hinder our ability to analyze topics and think critically. In essence, as the internet becomes a larger part of our daily lives, it reduces our ability and desire to be inquisitive, to retain information, and to think critically.
Teen classroom studies are great examples of how the internet is inhibiting these important aspects of teen development and growth, including critical thinking. One study in particular showed that students who were given access to the internet during class, and were encouraged to use it during lectures, were unable to recall the class information as well as those who were not given internet access. This was demonstrated through their performance on a test that was given following the class. These students admitted that they were unable to process and recall what the speaker had said during class, and that is why they did poorly on the test.
Unfortunately, it is evident with cases like this one, that critical thinking among this generation is greatly declining in comparison to previous generations. While the internet is readily available to almost everyone everywhere they turn, it is easy to find desired information, answers to questions, and solutions to problems rather than analyzing topics and thinking critically on our own.
How does Room To Escape come into play?
Forget technology! Room To Escape is ALL about critical thinking and problem solving. In fact, in this case, you must use ONLY your critical thinking and problem solving skills, the elements of the room, and teamwork in order to complete puzzles, crack codes, and solve ciphers to escape the room.
There are no firm age limits at Room To Escape, but the game rooms are recommended for adults and children 12 years and up. Although players under 15 years of age must be accompanied by an adult, Room To Escape is perfectly suited for families with children and teens. In other words, Room To Escape encourages teens and tweens to turn off the television, get off the internet, and participate in this real-life adventure game with their families!