My husband and I are computer people. Scratch that. We’re tech people. We use a myriad of items for work, correspondence, music, sources of information and for play. Why does this matter? Our daughter is likely going to be a computer person too. In fact, I would argue that she already is. At the age of two she can activate most of the features of my smart phone much better than I can, turn the tv on and off with the remote, shift through pictures and now take pictures with my digital camera, and figure out how to switch games on my iPad.
I can guarantee at least one of you readers read that last sentence and thought something along the lines of, “Why is she letting her two year old play with all of that?” I know there is a large community of parents who think exposing young children to these kinds of things is tantamount to committing a crime. I’ve read a number of blog posts and Facebook comments criminalizing parents for introducing technology at all.
Before I go any further, let me say that I am not about to advocate technology 24/7. Kids should be out running around, experiencing nature and life first-hand, playing with their friends face-to-face and using their imagination in physical ways. BUT, I do think it’s a bit antiquated to think technology is something that kids should completely avoid and be shielded from.
We live in a word that is plugged in – for good as well as bad. As adults, can you put a value on the ease of paying bills online, Christmas shopping without leaving our homes or reading our favorite book anytime without the hassle of bringing along a heavy novel? None of these technologies is going away; they are only getting easier and more useful. And who will keep making them better? Our children. They are the ones who will be growing up in a world in which technology grows just about every day, and they will be the ones who will continue to benefit from it and eventually aid in continued developments.
Studies show technology at the elementary level helps in motivation and self-esteem and develops the same kind of technical skills that I probably learned in college or post-school. Schools, like Brookfield High School, replaced their school books with iPads a few years ago to save money, and this trend is taking over in many school districts across the country. In 2012, a global education survey given to 15 year olds shows when it comes to math, reading and science, teens in the U.S. rank 36 out of 65 in the world. “U.S. performance was extremely low, doing average in reading and science and well below average in math. We failed to reach the top 20 in any of the subjects tested.”
Perhaps if we embrace what technology can do to enhance our children’s learning instead of vilifying it for all of the bad things…and there are quite a few…we can raise a generation that will change how this country learns, and increase our worldly rankings.