TECHNOLOGY AND CHILDREN, BYPASS THE FEAR
I want to be very accurate and clear with my viewpoint on the use of technology by children to help enhance learning both in a structured environment and during free play. I have read studies, heard from so called experts, and of course read more than a few articles on when may be the appropriate time to introduce technology such as computers, smart phones and interactive video games and come to my theory based on many years of being a parent, and the research I have read while earning my Masters Degree in Education.
As a passionate proponent of differentiated instruction, I view the use of technology with children through that prism. I have come to conclude that an individual traits, ability to receive stimuli, and “natural fondness” for a certain method of learning, can many times improve a child or adults ability to learn something in a way that would allow that person to reference that knowledge when called to do so. Technology should not be a baby sitter, while true, nor should a coloring book, or pet or coin collection. A caregivers ability to interact with a child to facilitate learning both, and this is the key, during specific learning modules and during extemporaneous play is part of the way a child or an adult learns and processes information they will retain for use.
A child with supervised but, not to an extent to sequester a child natural creativity (the first step to learning) can find a bounty of harvest titled productive information when allowed to “play” with supervised technology. Children at the ages of 8 or 9 can freely and with bold vigor, drag, and drop, define words, learn languages, understand group goals, and accountability, all through the use of technology. These are traits that many children may find appealing and willing to absorb rather than wrote memory rituals that we still advocate today.
We ourselves as a society may have learned through osmosis, that easiest way to do away with something we find new or challenging is create the evil that it may bring. The enemy is the new shiny object; the enemy is trying something new. Of course I am not implying their is not a dark side to technology and children. That is why I advocate caregiver oversight. The studies I have seen against children using technology seem to be easily rebutted and with little scholarly merit.
The final question, of course, then is how old should a child start using technology; the answer is simple, when an observant and engaged caregiver believes they may be ready. The readiness should be declared with a ponderousness of evidence and good council from the child’s teachers, instructors and other parents that know your child. The one variable I would be against is not opening up your child to technology before a certain age, because of fear or some one who themselves may be afraid of change and differentiated instruction.