Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power. Thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world, but it still doesn’t help us know what to say. –Jonathan Sacks
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned and even shared anything personal about myself but this weeks topic gives me the opportunity to share some of my personal thoughts with children and technology.
Six months ago from tomorrow I was thrown into the parenting world without any knowledge of raising children. I was always happy to say that, “yes! I have survived my teenage years without pregnancy” (no judgement) and I was now twenty-six with a stable job, financial security and emotionally open to undergo new experiences; and when I say new experiences I was pretty much thinking about the normal things 26 year old women do– like date.
Little did I know, six months ago, that my life would be changed by my 9 year old niece (Corri), it was like a real-life Raising Helen (movie); basically it was a child that was completely removed from me in a distance state named Kentucky now lived in a three bedroom apartment with my sister and I. Interestingly, along this journey I’ve picked up a few things that I would never consider if I still lived alone with my sister and puppy Blue. Out of all the lessons I’ve learned, I have realized that technology and children becomes an interesting topic among my conversations with other parents.
Children and Television
This of course is one of a plethora of ways we hinder the development of our children with technology, in my case I have noticed that my niece is an advocate of sitting in front of the television all day without any signs of moving. This became issue number one; she was so enthralled with what was going on television that she never had a moment to go outside and meet new friends. As a reaction, I would often kick her out of the house and tell her to make friends and each time she would come back with no new friends and an urge to continue watching whatever popped up on the Disney channel.
In general television is not completely detrimental to children, it does offer some pros. Just keep in mind some these interesting facts provided by the Child Development Institute:
- Studies have indicated that television does increase the general vocabulary of children, especially when it involves term referring to outer space.
- Television does provide opportunities for children to learn about all kinds of things, although whether they do so to any great extent depends largely on the specific programs the child actually watches.
- Television can increase a child’s range of interest since it exposes him to a variety of activities and topics he might not otherwise encounter-archeology, science of all kinds, architecture, music, etc.
- Television has probably been the most effective of all the mass media in making people aware of a wide range of human problems ranging from pollution to homelessness. It also has increased awareness and acceptance of various kinds of illness, both physical and mental.
Children and Technology– The Infamous Birthday List
While preparing for my niece’s birthday party, we of course asked her to give us a list of the top five birthday gifts. Of course we expected the normal list such as baby dolls and Monster High barbie dolls, I’m not sure what prompted our assumption; but I guess it was a natural thought process of individuals who loved dolls growing up. So one day she brings the list to us and explained the thought process behind her expensive birthday list, it went as followed:
1. Kindle— I REALLY WANT THIS
2. iPad– JUST IN CASE I DON’T GET THE KINDLE
3. Fur Real Friends Daisy Plays-With-Me Kitty
4. Laptop– APPLE
5. Monster High Barbie (Thanks Corri)
As we fumbled with the list, my sister turns to me and say “Tori, what ever happened to kids asking for barbie dolls and action figures for birthday gifts, Nowadays, they wants kindles!” I had the answer, it was quite obvious, kids see and understand how awesome these products are. Technology has literally taken over the way we as adults think and most importantly children. Is it a bad thing? No.
For the last couple of weeks we have tackled many topics, but this one speaks to me the most. As I learn new and interesting facts centered around emerging media, children and technology has fascinated me the most. It wasn’t until I did research on the topic did I realize how obsessed we have become with technology.
In an article published by the New York Times, author Nick Bilton described how his sister instantly calmed his 4 year old niece and 7 year old nephew down at dinner by handing them each their own Apple iPad to occupy them. He later stated that after dinner his sister felt horrible for using these devices to calm them stating “I don’t want to give them the iPads at the dinner table, but if it keeps them occupied for an hour so we can eat in peace, and more importantly not disturb other people in the restaurant, I often just hand it over.” On many occasions I have witnessed so many parents opting out of disciplining a child for bad behavior (taking a favorite item away) and in some ways promoting it with this technique; it makes you wonder if you yourself fall in the lines of this behavior. Besides behavior there are some people who believe that technology could have a negative effect on a child’s imagination, in some ways I agree but honestly I’ve witnessed the complete opposite in my niece.
Besides all the cons that are related to technology, there are some obvious gains when children indulge in technology, with the intentions of learning. Learning through technology has helped my niece with reading and math, we focus on her needs and more importantly focus on her safety while using the internet.
Does your child use the internet for learning purposes? If so how do you ensure he/she are retaining information that is useful? Share your thoughts.