The topic of technology and children is a controversial one, with parents and experts on one side attributing everything from ADHD & learning disabilities, to violence & mass shootings on games, online access, and technology. On the other hand, technology provides an invaluable learning tool, with information on almost every topic at your finger tips – quite literally. So, what does tech bring to the table, and is the influence it has on children good or evil? Does the good outweigh the bad?
It seems children these days gravitate towards tech like moths to flames, tablets, phones, games, even smart watches are being used by children before they can talk. Of course, the spectrum of what they’re able (or allowed) to access, the time spent on the device or program, and the individual child’s psychological make up all make a huge difference on the long term effects it has on the individual child. For example, an educational game played on a tablet for 30 min a day will have a much different impact than a first person shooter (FPS) game played 6 hours a day during summer.
An increasingly high number of schools – both public and private – have begun to integrate technology into their regular curriculum using computers for math, testing, research, projects, and in some cases replacing traditional books with eBooks and tablets. While parents might balk at these steps, especially those who are leery of modern advancements, the reality is the being familiar with technology, comfortable with computers, and able to use common programs well is essential in the modern workplace & an important part of education. In fact, in some countries touch typing is replacing calligraphy and handwriting as a core class.
Like most things in life, balance is key – while technology and children might be controversial, the reality is that it makes up a massive part of the world they will inhabit, work in, and raise children in as adults. Being familiar, adept in, and comfortable with tech is an essential skill. Teaching children to be responsible and smart with technology is the best defense we have, and the best way we can protect them from the potential dangers of living in a technologically advanced, and highly connected world.
Online safety, and computer security need to become a regular part of child rearing. Rather than restricting and attempting to keep kids away from technology, a better way is to teach them to use it responsibly – much like driving. Parents woudln’t dream of prohibiting their children from learning to drive, despite the danger, but take steps instead to ensure they are trained properly and know the safety rules in order to maneuver their world. The same is true of technology. Keeping kids away from tech is pretty much impossible, the best & most intelligent course of action is to provide them with training and guidance in order for them to be able to identify threats, police themselves, and stay safe while gaining the tech skills they will need to succeed.