How the teenage brain reacts to computers and video games

Educational Specialist Carolyn McWilliams explains how electronic devices can have negative effects on the developing teenage brain
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How the teenage brain reacts to computers and video games

I’m a great fan of technology. I love my iPad, I love my iPhone. I have to have an immediate answer to anything and I love that I can find it on the Internet. That said, electronic devices and developing teenage brains are not good companions when too much time is spent in that arena. The developing brain sees computer time and computer gaming much the same way that it does addictive devices. There is a dopamine release that gives the child immediate gratification and it’s very difficult to pull away from the computer and engage in other activities that they need to develop into full, healthy human beings. It’s our role as parents to put limits on technology. We have to find engaging activities that are outside, that are physical, that involve talking with people and developing passions that are in wide variety of areas to make sure that our kids go into adulthood with healthy brains and as fully developed individuals.

Educational Specialist Carolyn McWilliams explains how electronic devices can have negative effects on the developing teenage brain


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Carolyn McWilliams, MA

Educational Specialist

Carolyn is currently an educational therapist and educational consultant helping students, parents, and schools meet the challenges of gifted students with learning challenges through her offices in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn also does general consulting with schools on topics from curriculum development to teaching study skills to interpretation of student test scores.

Carolyn began her educational career in Santa Barbara, California, where she received her B.A. and M.A. and became a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a supervisor of student teachers and taught courses across the educational curriculum during her eight years at UCSB.

After completing her studies, Carolyn moved to Los Angeles where she served as the head of Adat Ari El Day School in Valley Village and as a consultant on issues of learning and instruction to Jewish day schools across the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Spectrum, as well as to elementary and secondary schools of all types. During this time she also served on the faculty of California State University at Northridge.

The parent of three highly gifted daughters of her own (one with learning challenges), throughout her career, Carolyn has designed innovative strategies, as well as unique programs to help gifted students achieve life success. She established the Johns Hopkins Center for Academically Talented Youth (CTY) Summer Commuter Program held at the University of California Los Angeles and served as parent liaison for the CTY to the press and larger community. She was the founder and head of Bridges Academy, which serves a population of twice-exceptional students in grades 6-12, from 1994-2003 (

Carolyn has been a classroom teacher in both Goleta Union and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. She was LAUSD Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for California Teacher of the Year, and was given an Outstanding Educator Award by the Los Angeles Times. She has published curriculum and articles in the areas of special education, social studies, English, educational computing, ESL, multi-cultural education, study skills, and classroom organization. She regularly presents at conferences and schools on topics related to curriculum, instruction, classroom organization, gifted students, and special needs populations. 

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