Thinking Skills for the Digital Generation: Dr. Balu Athreya 'Shares' His Latest Book

By BRIAN DONATHAN, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

“I never liked the word, teaching,” says Dr. Balu Athreya. 

It’s an unexpected comment from an emeritus professor and retired pediatrician with more than 50 years of experience. 

“I’ve been a medical educator all my life, and as an educator you’re always teaching, but I never liked the word. 

“I’ve always preferred sharing,” says the 84-year-old Cokesbury Village resident. 

Dr. Athreya’s latest foray into sharing culminated in January with the publishing of his fourth book, Thinking Skills for the Digital Generation. He partnered with University of Delaware associate professor Chrystalla Mouza for the three-year project. 

As a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Dr. Athreya became cognizant of the enormous impact emerging technologies have on younger generations, particularly on how they retrieve and process information. 

Thinking Skills for the Digital Generation examines how digital technologies affect thinking. The book aims to be a resource not only for academics, but also for parents and children. 

“Young people’s minds are getting distracted by all these technologies,” Dr. Athreya says. 

“There is so much information, it is hard to find the correct information.” 

The oversaturation led Dr. Athreya to worry people would “give up” in their search for deeper answers and more willingly accept “soundbites or a slogan” when reaching conclusions. 

The goal of the book, he says, is to “help future generations become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the information age and information technology, and how to use it wisely.” 

“For example,” he adds, “not just knowing how to retrieve correct information, but how to sift through it.” 

The authors took a neutral attitude in their approach, acknowledging that digital technologies are here to stay and they have their strengths, but reminding readers not to forget what we have known about thinking for centuries. 

The book notes, “There are plenty of warnings about the dangers of information technology, but there is also enormous potential for technology to aid human thinking.” 

“We know we are on the cusp of this digital education age, making it difficult to gauge the long term implications,” Dr. Athreya says. 

It’s a topic near and dear to his heart. For more than five decades Dr. Athreya practiced medicine, studied and “shared” at the University of Pennsylvania and at Thomas Jefferson University. Even now, he continues to pass on his knowledge once per week at DuPont Children’s Hospital in Wilmington. 

He notes that he was attracted to Cokesbury Village (Acts), particularly due to its commitment to a philosophy of loving-kindness and its dedication to active senior living, both of the body and of the mind. 

In a copy of his new book, which he gave to Cokesbury’s Executive Director Robyn Crandall, he wrote, “To my friends at C.V. for our continuing journey of learning.” 

Thinking Skills for the Digital Generation, along with Dr. Athreya’s previous works, are available on Amazon.