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|Clinicians Digest July/Aug 2008 - Page 2|
The Digital Connection
Many neuroscientists and educators are speculating that computers and the Internet have rewired the brains of millions of people, especially the younger generation, in ways that affect how they think and relate to others. In the July/August issue of Atlantic magazine, journalist Nicholas Carr describes how much his concentration has changed as a result of years of Internet use. He used to be able to think deeply for long stretches of time, but when he tries to concentrate now, he gets fidgety, loses the thread, and begins looking for something else to do.
Therapist Jane Webber, clinical director of School Counseling at Seton Hall University, insists that the digital revolution has rewired kids' brains and made much of the way we do therapy with them obsolete. So she's changed her approach. Now she may be in the middle of a session with an adolescent girl who takes out her cell phone to send a text message. Previously she might have assumed her client was deliberately tuning her out or in the throes of AD/HD, but no longer, so she sits patiently. Her own phone then chimes. The client has sent her a message: "u r not getting what im saying."
While many adults see kids as distracted, inattentive, and lacking "necessary" social and communication skills, that view may be shortsighted. They're actually wired to experience communication differently, multitask, hold simultaneous conversations, and leap from one thing to another, say Webber and her husband Barry Mascari, who heads the New Jersey Center for the Advancement of School Counseling. "Kids have developed hypertext minds," explains Mascari. The two believe that any effective therapy with young people must acknowledge and use electronic communication.