Found a synopsis of one of Spitzer's books here: http://www.worldcrunch.com/tech-science/does-the-internet-make-you-dumb-top-german-neuroscientist-says-yes-and-forever/digital-dementia-manfred-spitzer-neuropsychiatry/c4s9550/
Others have argued that trying to learn on the internet is like trying to drink from a fire hose. Learners need to acquire complex and cognitively demanding skills in order to filter out "the noise" in order to get to what's relevant and important to their learning needs. We send journalists and librarians to university to learn how to do this. Is this what we're proposing for children?
Undergraduate learners of second languages who participate in self-access centres report that they rarely use the internet as a source of language learning. They tend to see it as too difficult and time consuming to find sources of language that are useful to their learning needs. Curated libraries of books, audio, and video recordings specifically for second language acquisition (SLA) appear to be more useful to learners, i.e. much of the difficult searching, filtering, and collating has been done for them.
But what if we use an LMS to curate collections of resources and to facilitate learning activities (in terms of computer mediated communication)? i.e. to replace course books with LMS courses; digital course books. It sounds feasible and appears to have many advantages that have been touted by proponents in the press (More often than not they're not based on evidence of what actually happens in classrooms but on speculative suppositions... ...by non-educators). However, all I seem to hear from developmental psychologists and educators (this may be because of my confirmation bias) is that computer screens of any description have just as many drawbacks as they do advantages and that in practice, in the way that digital resources are actually being used in classrooms, the drawbacks frequently outweigh and sometimes negate the advantages.
Or with bring your own device (BYOD) in classrooms and provided WiFi connectivity. Learners claim that they're using their phones and tablets to access online dictionaries and sources of information, but how often do you think teenagers smile or snigger at dictionary entries? How often have you seen children smiling at their laps? Do you think they're that amused by academic information?
From personal experience and from what I've read in published papers, learners of all ages have a strong tendency to try to multitask when the opportunities are available (with the accompanying cost to cognitive engagement). The whole point of classrooms, study rooms, meeting rooms, libraries, etc. is to provide environments free from distractions so that learners can concentrate on one thing at a time - sanctuaries from distraction. As we've all no doubt seen in meetings, libraries, work places, etc., mobile devices have been very successful in penetrating and negating these "sanctuaries."
I think we'll eventually work out strategies, protocols, rubrics, etc. to provide effective, efficient elearning but this will require concerted, coherent exploration to find out what they are. I also agree with Spitzer's main argument that the way in which children are exposed to computers and the internet at the moment is highly detrimental to their cognitive development. We'd better have some idea of what we're doing before we start exposing younger learners to it during class time.