Sometimes we can get caught up in the evils of technology and forget about how it can be used to help children learn and grow in understanding.
To walk us through the pros and cons of children using technology we talked to Craig Hunter from Rehoboth Christian College who is a teacher at the college and a parent of three.
Technology as a Tool
“Technology is a great tool in the classroom and I think it’s going to be here to stay. We cannot become like some schools I’ve heard that are going to say no to technology. Let’s use it but let’s be intentional about helping them use it as a tool,” said Craig.
Many schools, primary and high school included now use technology as part of the curriculum, with some schools even giving each student their own iPad or laptop to use throughout the school year.
“As teachers, the challenge for us is keeping in front of it and I think the other part of it is that we can actually log in and see their progress,” described Craig. “So I will set them some math tasks and I can check their progress. I’ve got a reading app that the kids use, so they’ll do their reading and then they can answer lots of questions online and that will help me see their progress and their understanding.”
Through some of these programs, it can make bringing student responses together much easier. The teacher can then ensure the children who are not grasping a particular topic can get the assistance they need sooner. The caveat to this, however, is that some students can get distracted or go off task using technology.
School laptops and iPads can have some restrictions and filters on them for when the child is at school so they can be monitored however when the child is not at school there is only so much that can be done with computer restrictions.
The Negative Effects of Technology
Technology has the opportunity to bring the negative effects of technology to the forefront of the mind. Narcissism is a huge side effect of programs like social media. Most of the social sites revolve around getting the approval of other people for something you have done.
“It becomes an escape for kids, it becomes like a bit of narcissism, and it’s all about me…” continued Craig. “My boy goes, ‘Hey Google, tell me a joke. Hey Google, let’s play a game’ and he’s got an instant friend.”
The other sad side effect can be that children growing up with Siri and Google talking to you turn towards this imaginary person for companionship and friendship. From this imaginary friendship, the child can then lose the skills of how to interact with other people and hold a conversation.
“I think there is that part of it but the key thing is this; in the future the jobs aren’t going to be programmers, it’s going to be kids with EQ, kids that can work with others, that can be critical thinkers, that can be curious, that can be self-aware,” according to Craig. “Because they are going to sit with a client and say this is what I want to design for you, and use computers to help them. So what schools are doing is a lot more critical thinking, more creativity because that’s going to help them.”
The way that children use the internet has evolved from Wikipedia searches for assignment content to now having educational games and online resources which can enhance the child’s learning.
“The new language, the new narrative for kids is now gaming,” described Craig. “I think I’ve changed my perspective from being really negative to saying actually there is a community here. A lot of kids get online and talk while they are playing.”
The use of technology is something that needs an intentional thought behind it. Parents now need to set a good example with their use of technology and be accepting of the fact the children can and do learn through games. This may very well just be their new language of learning and that’s okay. We just need to be accepting of this change in learning style and embrace it.
Written by Rebecca Low