The Tablet Generation: How Technology Is Influencing Our Children

The Tablet Generation: How Technology Is Influencing Our Children

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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.

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14 Responses to The Tablet Generation: How Technology Is Influencing Our Children

  1. Susan Oakes June 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Technology is great but sometimes I wonder if the reliance on it in schools can hinder the curiosity of children as with a touch or by typing the answer if there.

  2. Susan Cooper June 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    There will always be advantages and disadvantages with all the new tech innovations. The real trick is to find a balance between living life in the real world as apposed to the cyber one. I struggle with that myself so I can just image the challenges a parent has with a child in that regard.

    • Geek Girl June 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

      There is still a difference, but the cyber world is becoming more and more a part of the 'real' world. Think smart houses, smart cars, smart technology in general. Use your thumb print to open your house or car door instead of keys.

  3. Leora June 6, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    I have seen good things coming of my daughter's use of tablet and computer. She can interact with her friends, and she knows more about Google Hangouts than the rest of us. As Jeri noted in her former school, our children's school has smartboards, but the kids are better at using them than most of the teachers. On the other hand, she can spend too much time on the screen on some days. We have a hard time disengaging her.

    As for smart phones, my rule is if the teen can pay for the data plan, they can have a smart phone. My teens have not taken me up on that offer. They learn that tech costs.

    • Jon Jefferson June 6, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      We do the same thing Leora. Although we might go a step further. Both of my daughters have phones but they also pay for the usage. My oldest has an android and tablet that she bought herself. My youngest has an iPod and phone that she bought.

      My youngest has friends at school who have all the latest technology with no respect for it because they were given what they have. She is proud of how hard she works for what she has.

      • Geek Girl June 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

        Technology is more valuable if you had to earn it yourself.

  4. catarinaalexon June 6, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    Personally love computers, the internet and everything connected with it.

    If it's good for children, or not ,is a Catch22 situation, isn't it.

    We don't yet know how what impact technology will have on their health long term. And because they need to master everygthing related to IT, I don't think parents have a choice. Unless of course they want their children to be "handicapped" compared to other kids. Their future would be ruined:-)

    • Geek Girl June 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      Technology is a 2 edged sword. We cannot ignore it or we get left behind. That applies even more so to our children. Finding a balance is the tricky part.

  5. roomsinc June 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Have you heard of Quib.ly? It's a Q&A site that allows parents to gain a better understanding of all things tech-related so they can keep up with their kids! Read about it here: http://tinyurl.com/MyWebRoom-Quibly

  6. JeriWB June 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    When used to supplement certain aspects of the curriculum or a child's interests such devices can be quite enriching, but too often the use of the device (tablet or smartphone) overshadows the deeper literacy skills that need to be taught. My former school was built with all the best technology in mind, but then half of the teachers didn't know how to use the SmartBoard, etc., and another quarter used it to soothe rowdy students. Maybe one fourth used the technology appropriately. The most troubling aspect comes with how they seem to be changing our ability to focus for prolonged periods of time.

    • Geek Girl June 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

      I still think that the problem is not with technology itself, but rather in how it's used and applied. It's only as useful as those using it, as you point out Jeri.

  7. Jon Jefferson June 5, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    I almost think the proliferation of cell phones is worse than tablets for kids. Before cell phones it was a normal occurance for teenagers to be lost to the home phone when they weren't at school. So it isn't really something new. But now with all the apps you have on smart phones and the full time contact everywhere, the draw for children is huge. It is even worse when the need to have the latest and greatest device kicks in.

    • Geek Girl June 5, 2013 at 8:41 am #

      I think like with all things it's a matter of how they are used. As parents we have limited TV time, phone time, video game time for our children… It's almost like a 2 edged sword. Tablets are wonderful devices. Let's use them and not abuse them.

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