The Tablet Generation: How Technology Is Influencing Our Children
Touchscreen technology means different things to different parents. For some, it’s a life-saver when work has to get done and silence is a necessity. Others worry about the impact exposing children to technology will have on their health and on their development. But for many, touchscreen devices represent an opportunity. In many schools and homes, these tech gadgets are looked at as a tool: an interactive learning instrument designed for education and growth . . . as long as they are used sparingly and appropriately.
Concerns and Advantages
Since tablets are so new, it’s hard to say what the ultimate outcome of the devices will be, but early signs are good. Schools are already using them to increase test scores and learning outcomes.
Still, parents are concerned about how screen time will affect their kids. Some worry that tablets could damaging kids’ ability to communicate effectively and build relationships. Some even think that they may be affecting children’s brains in ways we don’t yet understand, and these concerns do hold some validity according to recent studies on how children interact with their environment while playing with a tablet.
As with anything, it seems these gadgets are best used in moderation. When viewed as an educational opportunity though, they can actually be very socializing tools. According to Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative, some schools in Europe are using these every day in the class room in order to make the children “creators and documenters of their own learning.” Here the teachers use the more social apps like Skype and voice recorder for social engagement and interviewing instead of the all too common apps that simply expose children to words.
This is not to say the interactive media found on these tablet PCs isn’t valuable – it just seems that the research points out that the best results come when their time and use is coupled with parents and other adults in order to cultivate a learning situation.
Using Tablets Effectively
Some parents use touchscreen devices as a way to make their kids be quiet or behave. If this sounds familiar, it might be wise to observe your children and see what their reaction to their surroundings actually is while playing with these gadgets. Try calling their name and see if they respond well or even at all. If it seems normal, and you feel they have a grip on what’s going on around them as well as how many pigs are dropping in Angry Birds, then it’s probably okay. Keep monitoring your kids’ usage, and encourage them to put the tech down every once in a while.
If you’re concerned about the so-called, “zombie theory,” where children that watch too much TV are in essence doing nothing with their brains at all, according to Dan Anderson, a children’s-media expert at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, you don’t need to worry too much. It was found that even young children can be discriminating viewers; essentially, they aren’t brain dead at all, but are actually hard at work trying to make sense of what they see.
There is a lot of research surrounding this so called touch-screen generation and it seems that every situation is different. The bottom line is that there is no escaping the rapid growth of technology and it wouldn’t be healthy in the least to harbor our children from it completely because of uncertainty and doubt.
Technology can be a great tool and without it, one would be lost in this world. So, next time you pull out your tablet PC for the kids, maybe re-evaluate the situation and make sure it isn’t to just subdue them into silence. And just as the counsel has always been for parenting – get involved with them and their learning; make boundaries for the use of these gadgets and make sure that they are using this technology appropriately.
What tips do you have for the tablet generation?
About the Author:
Paul Mansour is enthusiastic about start-ups along with consumer and small business technology. Working within Dell.com, he needs to stay up-to-date on the latest products and solutions and best-in-class ecommerce strategies. In his spare time he can’t resist taking apart his latest gadget and forgetting how to put it back together.