Is It Possible to Use Technology to Improve Slow Processing Speed in Kids?

Many educators and psychologists don’t think that we can improve slow processing speed in children. But there is mounting evidence that specific types of activities, particularly those involving technology, can improve certain types of processing speed in kids.

The best example of this is a series of studies by C. Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier, that has demonstrated how decision making and reaction times can be improved by playing action-based video games. Other studies have demonstrated that playing video games like Rayman Raving Rabbids can increase fluency (speed) of reading. Video games have shown promise in directly revving up the speed of the brain for processing specific types of information.

But both high and tech tools are effective for supporting and increasing processing speed. Consider how putting wheels on a box (e.g., a wagon) enhances its locomotion. In the case of high tech, consider the way an accomplished typist can put more words onto paper than an individual confined to hand-writing. Better yet, think of a student who learns how use dictation tools effectively and can produce written assignments in a much shorter period of time. Given that kids with slow processing speed almost always exhibit problems with written language, it is easy to see how new technologies can directly improve slow processing speed.

Here are some easy-to-apply technologies that can directly improve slow processing speed:

Expect your child to become an expert typist. Do not be satisfied with a simple competency with typing. The child should learn how to touch type on a keyboard and then put effort, time, energy, and practice into learning typing skills. Practicing and mastering typing,  rather than improving handwriting for children with slow writing fluency is clearly a far better use of time and energy. While keyboarding skills may be difficult to acquire for children with fine-motor difficulties, efforts directed at improving typing skills will be rewarded throughout an individual’s life. In today’s world, the only place where handwritten materials are typically required is in the elementary school classroom. Rather than forcing children to engage in a highly frustrating task, it makes more sense to teach them a skill that will be useful for them in the future, that will make school a far less onerous experience, and that will help them to overcome one of the major impediments to learning other important writing skills.

Mental manipulation. Use digital technologies that improve visuospatial processing of information. This could include using a variety of video games that are designed for mentally manipulating objects and understanding the connections among a variety of shapes. Games such as Tetris and Lumines can be great fun and helpful in this regard.

Puzzle over it. Practice processing visual information by using puzzles and strategy games. Traditional puzzles can be very useful for developing and understanding the interrelationship among shapes and visual images and building planning skills. A variety of puzzle video games that can teach sequential thinking skills, cause and effect, and what to look for could be useful. Games such as Bad Piggies and Toki Tori could be helpful in developing these skills.

Featured image: Flickr user gosheshe

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