Blog Post: Technology for kids

Emily Morris 3 June 2014 9

According to an article in the Canberra Times, the ACT Education and Training Directorate has spent $2.5 million on tablet computers since 2010, with 5160 now in ACT public schools.

Although this averages one tablet per 8 children, I can imagine the real breakdown is likely to vary wildly from school to school, particularly with socio economic backgrounds of students. Or perhaps that’s presumptive of me.

Before children I was anti screen time all together. Of course, once reality struck, TV became a staple (if ABC ever drop Play School during the witching hour life might well grind to a halt). I have however stuck with this in regard to computers. I have resisted the urge to put games on my iPad and the kids have just never been introduced to the wonders of the web. That being said they are toddlers and pre-schoolers so it’s relatively easy to make this decision.

I must admit though that a friend visited from overseas last year with her 2 year old daughter who was completely comfortable with her iPad, navigating her way around and working magic. It made me wonder if I was essentially holding my kids back by not introducing them to such delights. After all, this is the world they will grow up in and it will be entirely different to the one I grew up in.

Psychologist and author, Dr Aric Sigman addressed a conference of childcare workers in the UK over the weekend, talking about the issues with developing multi tasking at the same time as concentration (which computer use essentially does), limiting the ability to pay attention to a teacher or communicate (for more see The Telegraph) and calling for a ban on computer use for children under nine.

And yet Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sessions are commonplace in Primary Schools.

What side do you come down on? Get them adjusted to technology and all it’s capabilities young to prepare them to life as they grow, or keep it simpler and focus on, well – focus?

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9 Responses to Blog Post: Technology for kids
Dork Dork 11:45 am 05 Jun 14

The modern day equivalent of “today we’re going to watch a movie” only difference is it’s used more often because parents are convinced their children are learning something.

astrojax astrojax 10:42 am 05 Jun 14

we used to live in shoebox in’t middle of’t road…

it will always be difficult for the ‘our generation’ to decide on what’s best for the ‘next’ generation (after the one generating ‘now’) and justin heywood sums it up nicely [and good luck to his daughter!].

i / we try to limit screen time for astromonkey and astrochicken (4 & 2) but both love it and the elder one seems to know much about dinosaurs, their names, whether herbivore or carnivore, and many other things, while the little one mimics his big brother and recites [in his way] the alphabet, etc…

i see them gathering their experiences of the world and my role to provide them opportunities to do so and to help them find their own ways to interpret these experiences. part of this is looking at research from those whose work is in related fields, so i will look at such advice from dr sigman and make my own conclusions. a single prescriptive age-based ban seems intuitively wrong, but i’ll consider the basis for his asserting it and see how i might apply the ideas behind it to my own parenting skills suite. and i won’t judge others who come to different conclusions to me – every child is different…

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 9:14 am 05 Jun 14

Considering that these electronic devices [ipads, laptops, mobile phones] require internet connection for many functions to operate, a consideration parents need to weigh up is the cost. My son’s first mobile phone came with $30 of credit which was supposed to last 12 months. It ran out before the first month. When I found out why [up to 60 txt messages per day] I re-iterated the rules of usage. The next $30 last a little longer but it was only after some appropriate confiscation that the lesson sunk in. Then we found our home internet data allowance had been exceeded half way through the billing cycle, whereas we’d only ever reached 50% on a heavy usage period. Low and behold, his wi-fi connected tablet had been used to access music from Youtube. Well, it now doesn’t have that connection any more and another period of confiscation has had the result we hoped for.
If kids do not realise that these things cost money, they don’t care and will keep using it up. If they pay their own way, then I can’t see a problem with technology being available, as long as they understand what happens when the credit runs out and Mommy n Daddy won’t bail them out.

magiccar9 magiccar9 6:19 am 05 Jun 14

justin heywood said :

Although it hurts me to admit it (and I never would admit it to her), I have come to the conclusion that she is better prepared for the her world as it is than I was for my world when I was 17.

Well said.

While my jury is still out on at what age children should be introduced to smart devices (not being a parent, it’s not something immediately at the front of my mind), I do agree that the world is changing.

Technology is pushing us further and faster, and to keep our children at the forefront of societal values and life skills, we need to change the way parents send them out into the world. Just how parents do this is essentially up to them, but I reckon without these skills your child is going to be left behind.

How I work and interact in my era is different to my parents, and I have no doubt it will be entirely different to my children’s, and so on. It’s just about keeping up with the norms, and leveraging them to be the best parent possible.

mr_pink mr_pink 12:23 am 05 Jun 14

I bet there’s a scoop just waiting for the first journo to work out just how many of those 5160 tablets are unusable with the ACT Government school’s network and just how much of that (approx) $1.8m dollars “we’re so cutting edge” is just languishing unused in school storage.

justin heywood justin heywood 6:53 pm 04 Jun 14

My daughter (17) has always had access to TV, computers, phones and iPads. She seems incapable of focusing on any one thing for more than a few minutes – even while watching a good movie I notice she still keeps an eye on social media via her phone. She rarely reads anything. BUT, she does well at school (physics, chem, maths), she is bright, happy and well adjusted.

I’m unhappy that she’s never really read a good book, gazed into space for no reason or had a day or even an hour disconnected from other people. But these are my ideas of what makes life good, not hers. Nowadays things seem shallower but faster and more immediate. People don’t acquire knowledge – it’s all on the web after all- now the trick is in filtering information, and she’s an expert at that. She may never read Joyce but she can spot the flaw in an argument in a second.

Although it hurts me to admit it (and I never would admit it to her), I have come to the conclusion that she is better prepared for the her world as it is than I was for my world when I was 17.


dtc dtc 4:44 pm 04 Jun 14

Schools dont use Ipads for games, well not for cut the rope or angry birds. There are some great educational apps, body parts you can zoom in, animals and so forth. There are math apps and spelling and all sorts of things.

Schools also use them for art and, indeed, for putting books on instead of having the kids lug them around. And sometimes its cheaper to buy ipad plus books (over a few years) than having the hard copy of books.

Technology doesnt have to equal games or entertainment.

Madam Cholet Madam Cholet 3:43 pm 04 Jun 14

Doesn’t mean because they can use an ipad from an early age that they will lose the ability, or rather never gain the ability to focus. You are still in control here and you limit time and content type. My son who is nearly six, loves the ipad and likes to watch cartoon dinosaurs fighting. Yes, really he does. Anyway, through wanting to watch these little videos he is learning the names of the dinosaurs, knows how to type some of the names or at least the start of them. So he’s learning is my point.

Go and google a guy called Sugata Mitra and read about or watch a talk from him on his hole in the wall experiment and his thought on technology. Not ipad specific but may calm your mind about the evils of technology. I just heard him talk at a conference and he was fantastic. What he helps kids to do is amazing.

justsomeaussie justsomeaussie 1:13 pm 04 Jun 14

It’s interesting to see so many parents so concerned about their childrens education yet they are willing to sabotage their kids because ipads (any bright screens) are an lazy way of parenting.

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