Does Infancy Prepare for Adulthood?

 Photo Credit: John Lehman, MSW  By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi 

Photo Credit: John Lehman, MSW

By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi 

        Cognitive human development is the psychological study of a child’s progression in learning language, conception and comprehension, skill succession, and other brain development factors that are based on experts and professionals’ opinion of progression and/or advancement. Important characteristics that should be observed in the progression of cognitive development would be those previously mentioned, as they are innate elements to a child’s learning abilities. Developmental psychologists believe a human’s lifespan, which includes physical, cognitive, social, intellectual, perceptual, personality, and emotional traits are predicated on anthropological growth (American Psychological Association, n.d., para. 1). In addition, complex lexicon on the importance of child's human development progression can be challenging, as it is a sensitive, yet compulsory elements within the "laws" of psychology and science. Partson (2012) focused on cognitive development in infancy such as observing sensorimotor stages of development, exploring the environment around them. Imitation, language development, reading, and learning abilities were specific elements focused on his theory.  

Example: My Child's Development 

       My daughter developed quite quickly and I believe it was due to her surroundings and learning environment. She was saying  “pa” around five months and by six months, she was fulling saying “papi” (it took her nearly a year to say mama-hmmm lol). She learned sign language at one year old and many people thought she was deaf because she refused to speak and wanted to sign all the time. Her daycare provider, Christie, taught her sign language as a skill-set in her homecare school (I was in the Air Force, stationed in Okinawa, Japan at the time). She would communicate with deaf people (as a baby) within the local community and I thought it was great to see, but it took a while for me to catch on try and do it with her. Though she has great memory and learning skills, it took her 14 months to walk. By 18 months, she was fully “potty-trained,” and putting on her own clothes. Fast-forward to today-- because I think this is her most fascinating stage (she is 12). She retains information so well to the point that she remembers distinctive events when she was a baby-- things that actually happened and the reiteration is quite vivid. She can miss a day of school, take a quiz when she returns, and earn an A because of her memorization skills—which are usually distinctive  and quite impeccable. Last year, she was learning Arabic and now she is dabbling a little in Hebrew. I am Jewish, so I speak a little Hebrew, which she has caught onto in Temple services and have memorized prayers and songs in a few days. Because Arabic and Hebrew are a little similar, she has been able to pick up on many words. 

The Impact of Specific Skills

        I do believe sign language significantly impacted (and advanced) her memory skills, as I believe she has an uncanny ability to remember distinctive things and/or events. A couple of months ago, she asked me if I remembered the singing fish my grandmother used to have. It sang down by the water or river – I cannot remember the actual name of the song - and I asked her, “how do you remember that?” She said because the fish used to move its head from left to right when it would sing and at first, she was scared of it—which is true.  It was 2007 when we flew from Japan to West Virginia to visit my grandmother and she was only 18 months at the time when she first saw that fish. I do not know if she will keep this pace of memorization and learning progression. I do not believe I was as bright at her age, but I believe it is predicated on technological advancement and modernity within the classrooms, which I was not susceptible to back in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Per Bavelier, Green, and Dye (2010) technology “plays a formative role in many children’s development” (para. 1). Understanding she was born in the century of technology, it should not be surprising the advanced learning abilities of children within the twenty-first century. I give her daycare provider much credit to her learning abilities as well. When I was stationed in Japan, she stayed with a great daycare provider, who was licensed through the Air Force base and certified in advanced learning with children. She taught my daughter sign language, had her potty-trained before she could walk, counting in Spanish—the list goes on. Her advanced learning and adaptation to living in different countries and cultural societies has assisted her understanding of learning that I believe has given her an advantage above others. However, there are strengths and weaknesses-- and I believe that is essentially based on age and physical ability. She plays soccer quite well and is a great swimmer. However, gymnastics is a little more difficult for her and I believe it is because she started late in the game at eight years old vs. two or three years old when children are very impressionable in such a sport. When you are that young, there is not any fear. When you are older, the fear is there on the bars, high beams, etc. She has given up the sport because her instructor said because she is so tall, gymnastics will be even more difficult for her in the future, as she continues to grow. Overall, she is a very sociable and likeable kid. She has traveled the world and transferred to so many schools and is usually befriending those who are shy and/or are new because she has lived it her whole life. She has not attended the same school more than once and each year, and I believe her cognitive progression from birth, environment, and child care has influenced her social development. 

Social Media & Technology

        I have mixed feelings about small children using social media and devices for an extended period. Traveling on a long trips or doing something that requires silence and/or attention (i.e. meetings, taking care of the home, etc.) with small children- yes, it is fine to watch movies and have entertainment, but I do not condone continuous hours of utilizing technology because it becomes a dependency, which negatively influences social development (in my opinion). The last school my daughter attended required a laptop because they had to complete assignments using PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. They were taught to conduct Internet research, which I find an important benefit to preparing for higher education. At her current school, they are required to do homework, which requires open source materials and a significant use of software and Internet programs. This is where we are at today with children, learning, and technology. At the same time, we know most children are watching movies, playing games, or are on social media for a significant amount of time. Social media and technology are hurting children’s social skills and willingness to be active. What you see today are kids texting, chatting, or subscribing to “YouTube stars,” and there is not enough physical interaction like playing outside and socializing (unless they are active in sports). Maddy French wrote an article on how technology may have a social effect on kids (2017). She stated, “kids ages eight to 18 are becoming more addicted to technology, and it is leading to negative consequences, such as the need for instant gratification, poor face-to-face interaction and risk of depression (French, 2017, para. 1). With it comes to bullying and depression among adolescents, I believe technology is a leading factor in cyberbullying and violence among children from school age to the early stages of higher education. Kids have become so dependent on technology that it has become the daily ritual of their lives. A study completed by the Kaiser Family Foundation concluded that children from the ages of eight to 10 years old spend more than seven hours a day using technology and that teenagers are up to 11 hours (French, 2017). Technology is a very important aspect to progression to children's development, as its use is the way of the future for higher levels of academia and careers. But I believe excessive access can be damaging and the perception can lead to dependency, hence, there should be a balance and that starts with parents leading by examples showing their children a healthy proportion. 

CONCLUSIon

        It is understood-- the anomalies on the psychology of infants to adolescents and young adults are based on many influential factors: upbringing, environments, learning abilities, and technology. Sure, there are more elements that affect the  stages of growth and progression, but it starts with home. Today, it is impossible to have "normalcy" (in my opinion) or what is considered to be the perfect child, but it is possible to have decency and the best attempts in raising a child to ensure healthy and positive development to be a prominent and respective individual within society. Additionally, there are many influences that are uncontrollable (i.e. abnormalities, learning disabilities, disorders, external environmental, etc.), but it dependent upon the "internal" household to ensure their child's mental, physical, and spiritual progression and development as a human being. 

References 

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Developmental psychology studies humans across the lifespan. Psychology: Science in Action. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/action/science/developmental/index.aspx (accessed on 11 February 2018).

Bavelier, D., Green, C.S., & Dye, M.W.G. (2010). Children, wired – for better and for worse. Neuron, 67(5), 692-701. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170902/ (accessed on 13 February 2018).

French, M. (2017). Technology may have negative social effect on kids. Brigham Young University: Utah Press. Retrieved from http://universe.byu.edu/2017/04/12/technology-may-have-negative-social-effect-on-kids/ (accessed on 14 February 2018). 

Maternal depression and child development. (2004).  Paedatrics & Child Health (National Institute of Health, 9(8), 575-583.

Nokali, N.E., Bachman, H. J., & Votruba-Drzal, E. (2010). Parent involvement and children’s academic and social development in elementary school. Child Development, 81, (3), 988-1005. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2973328/ (accessed on 13 February 2018). 

Parton, J. (2012, September 23). Infant cognitive development. [YouTube]. Retrieved from https://apus.intelluslearning.com/lti/#/lesson/3652// (accessed on 11 February 2018). 

Postpartum depression facts. (n.d.). U.S. National Institute of Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml (accessed on 12 February 2018).