UCLA’s news department reports on new research by a faculty member that raises important questions about technology’s impact on learning. As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, Los Angeles. Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the internet, and video games. Her research was published this month in the journal Science. Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not, Greenfield said. So, how much should schools use new media, versus older techniques such as reading and classroom discussion? "No one medium is good for everything," Greenfield said. "If we want to develop a variety of skills, we need a balanced media diet. Each medium has costs and benefits in terms of what skills each develops."

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