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Ways in which Cognitive Development Influences Other Areas of Child Development

Introduction

Cognitive development is very critical to the development of a child as it either accelerates or decelerates the development of a child in other areas of development. For instance, the intelligence of a child is largely determined by their cognitive development. The large volume of information found over the Internet allows children to read them in a short span of time, for example. As the children read, they are able to think and reason better as compared to when reading a textbook (Jaffe, 2015). This increases their mental activities and abilities thus boosting their ability to locate information from the storage part of the brain.

Apart from intelligence, the cognitive development of a child affects other areas such as the ability to multi-task. According to Oakley (2014), children who have grown in the Internet era have a higher ability to multitask as compared to children who had no access to the Internet. This is because children in the digital age have been able to multitask by texting and responding to online messages as they study. What is even shocking is that, according to research, students who multitask while studying could produce the same results as the students who did not multitask. This was because their brain was able to adapt to the new environment. Cognitive development was responsible for the changes that occurred to their brains. The implication here is that as a child receives new information, they structure their mind to accommodate it.

As was theorized by Jean Piaget, cognitive development as undergone by humans involves two processes: assimilation and accommodation. His cognitive development theory holds that these two processes constantly interweave to give rise to cognitive growth. Assimilation takes place when a person changes or modifies new information to fit into his or her schemas (Goswami, 2008). Schemas here denotes what that person already knows. This means that through assimilation, one acquires new experience or information and adds it to the information they already have in their mind. On its part, accommodation means modifying or restructuring what one already knows so that newly acquired information can easily fit in (Plotnik & Kouyoumdjian, 2013). This especially happens when one experiences problems as posed by their environment and when one’s perception does not sit well with what one thinks or knows.

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From the two discussed ways, intelligence is apparently observed at the tender age of the child as opposed to multitasking. This is because the intelligence of a child can be noticed by the way the child responds to the environment. For instance, they may be asking curious questions related to the environment in which they are in, indicating that their reasoning ability is higher than may be expected (Oakley, 2014). Moreover, they might perform exemplary well in their kindergarten school level, portraying high intelligence. On the other hand, the ability to multitask may not necessarily be observed at a tender age since the brain of a child is not fully developed. A child tends to focus on a single task at a time hence they would not have the ability to multitask.

Comparing and Contrasting Theories of Cognitive Development

Many theories explain the process of cognitive development from childhood to adulthood. For instance, Jean Piaget’s theory suggests that cognitive development takes place in four distinct stages (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013). The first stage is the sensorimotor stage which occurs between birth and when the child is two years of age. This is followed by the preoperational reasoning stage occurring between 3-7 years. The third is the concrete operational reasoning stage, occurring at the age of 8-13 years. Finally, the formal operation reasoning stage occurs at the age of above 13 years old. Stiles (2012) insists that this theory is similar to Lev Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development in that they both agree that cognitive development is a gradual process that occurs in the brain of the child. However, the two theories have some differences. For example, Piaget emphasizes on the stages involved in shaping cognitive development while Vygotsky insists on cultural background to have a higher effect on shaping the development.

Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development can be applied at home where a child grows up in a home that has a fireplace. At the sensorimotor stage, the child would not be interested even if the fire is put out. However, at the second stage, the child would be able to think that the fire only lights up and goes off by its self. In the third stage of development, the child would realize that the fire can be lit by a matchstick and can be put out by water but would not understand why. In the last stage, the child would now be able to understand why the fire can be put on by a matchstick and be put out by water. This is quite different from Vygotsky’s theory where a child brought up in a home embracing his own culture would perform their home chores like washing utensils and cooking better than a child brought up in a culture different from their origin.

In addition, Piaget’s theory can be observed even in the school environment. A child would not be interested in whether their pen would write or not. In their second stage, they would think that the pen only writes when they want it to while in the third stage, they would understand that the pen writes when it is filled with ink but they would not know why. In the final stage, they would realize that the pen would write when with ink since the ink flows down to the ballpoint. According to Vygotsky, a child would understand better things that they were taught from their cultural background than things that they were taught from a foreign culture.

Conclusion

Cognitive development is a process that occurs gradually and throughout the lifespan of an individual. It helps us in developing other many broad areas of our development such as intelligence and the ability to multitask. As discussed above, there are many theories that try to explain how cognitive development takes place, including the Jean Piaget’s and Lev Vygotsky’s theories.

References

Goswami, U. (2008). Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.

Jaffe, E. (2015). “Rewired: cognition in the digital age”. Psychological Science. Retrieved July 8, 2020 from; http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2012/february-12/rewired.html

Oakley, L., (2014). Cognitive development. Psychology Press.

Plotnik, R., & Kouyoumdjian, H. (2013). Introduction to psychology. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Shaffer, D., Kipp, K., (2013). Developmental psychology: childhood and adolescence. New York, NY: Cengage Learning Press.

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