There has been a lot of hype around kids and technology in the media recently and this weekend was no exception. It makes for some interesting reading, especially when you consider how frequently children use technology and its educational value.
A journalist from across the pond (The Chicago Tribune) believes that parents today are bringing up the iKid generation. There’s no denying it: our kids are growing up surrounded by technology. According to a 2011 Common Sense Media Research study, children aged five and upwards are spending more time than ever looking at screens. They are likely to spend a fair amount of time playing video games on the family Wii and their Nintendo DS devices. Children are also frequently downloading apps and playing games on our iPhones, if they don’t have their own. This explains why there’s a whole market of iPad apps out there all based around and designed for learning.
We understand that parents can be a little apprehensive about this emergence of technology in their children’s lives and wonder what good can come from a child sitting in front of a TV or computer screen for too long. It is important to figure out where the line is drawn on technology being educational and when it is purely recreational — the line is actually quite blurred.
Ollie Bray, the National Adviser for Emerging Technologies in Learning at Education, reports that research has shown there are plenty of benefits to using gaming in education: it gives teachers a chance to innovate and do things differently in a way that children respond to. He continues that the learning doesn’t come from the game itself but becomes the context for learning. Take the game Guitar Hero, for example. It has no educational value, but in the hands of the right teachers, it suddenly becomes a project about music, designing CD cases and marketing the band.
As the use of technology is set to continue increasing in almost all aspects of our lives, we think it’s important that we don’t neglect it. Instead we should nurture it and encourage our children to interact with it in an educational context. In fact, children are likely to do this of their own accord.