SmartPhones are changing the cultural influences on children’s development. In a new six-part series, Dr Stephanie Thornton considers the implications for education and society

From the discovery of fire or iron through to the innovations of the 21st century, technology has always changed the way humans live, and the way our young develop.

The invention of literacy, for example, fundamentally changed the way we think, laying the foundations for the emergence of more formal and logical thinking (Scribner & Cole, 1981). Television changed how we experience the world, massively extending our horizons. Computers and the internet have changed our lives still more.

The idea that technology can have far-ranging impact is nothing new. But experts believe that no technical innovation has ever had as much potential for changing lifestyles or affecting the way the young develop as the advent of the “smart” mobile phone (Yan, 2017).

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