Children using technology: is it essential for your children to grow up using, utilising and understanding how technology works?

IPhone
iphone: Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

As my daughter starts to grow older (she’s 16 months now) and is much more inquisitive about the world, I’ve started to really question how much technology she should be exposed to and how children using technology effects their lives.

I am already acutely aware that she wants our mobile phones and wants to tap away at my laptop if she can.

But is this interest at such an early age healthy? Normal? Just part of growing up in the 21st century?

Or is it actually damaging to her to be so engaged with screens and all of their possibilities?

I have worked within the technology and innovation sectors for a long time and my current role is supporting businesses who are utilising the possibilities of virtual reality and augmented reality. So I am continuously putting headsets on and off and looking in depth at where this particular technology is going to take us (although there are no headsets at home).

So I completely understand the importance and role technology has to play and believe it is fundamental to every aspect of our lives. We’ve only just started to teeter on the edge of our wearable technology and internet of things for example.

Once these technologies are completely integrated into out lives, we’ll be surrounded by technology every second of the day. So is there anything to worry about?

Jemma Willson from MayFlower Blogs says 

I think it’s important, but it also needs to be closely monitored, limited, and balanced with more traditional ways of learning and play. It’s obviously now a way of life in this day and age, so it really does need to be used and learnt, but I think it’s very easy to get sucked into the technology side and forget the fun family things we’d do as children.

Wearables Watch
Wearables Watch: Photo by Crew on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this message resonates with all of the parents I have engaged with on this subject.

I have had only positive comments from parents who have all said that they believe technology is essential to their children’s development and understanding of their world.

Many parents want their children to be educated on technology so they can embrace all of it’s possibilities.

Christy Bruckner from Welsh Mum explains:

I think that my son will have a great advantage growing up surrounded by technology and electronics. He will learn to use them from a young age and they’ll be a seamless part of his life in a world where that’s going to be helpful for both his personal life and career. I’m amazed at the things kids can do these days. However, there are a lot of things I worry about, such as too much screen time, learning to enjoy outdoors, keeping fit and encouraging independent play, not to mention the dangers of internet access from a young age. One of the biggest challenges I think I will face is finding the right balance.

Pete Chatfield from House Hold Money Saving also agrees:

I thinks it’s very important. It allows children access to a wealth of knowledge that other generations could only dream of. With it brings extra dangers though, so it needs to be monitored closely. It also brings happiness – such as my 4-year-old sighing as she tries to show grandma how to take a photo.

Others also want to make sure that their children didn’t miss out.

Emma Reed says:

I think that in this day and age it is. I grew up without any technology in the home and we had access to one computer by year 5 in primary school. Secondary school wasn’t much better and then we go out to work and are expected to know how to use systems. At 19 I did an evening course in computer basics because I needed to know so much more. Kids use them from pre-school age now because using a computer is just the norm now throughout lives. I don’t want my son to be left in the dark the way I have been. There is so much I still don’t know and I have to learn it as I go and it is can be so tedious at times.

And all of this is so reassuring.

Flying Drone
Flying Drone: Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reason it’s so reassuring is that the UK is currently one of the global players in innovation and technology development.

But there is a skills shortage gap.

In fact the Government actually called it a ‘Digital Skills Crisis’ in 2016. The report explains:

  • There is a digital divide where up to 12.6 million of the adult UK population lack basic digital skills.

  • An estimated 5.8 million people have never used the internet at all.

  • This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost additional GDP

These are no small stats!

I’ve known through my day to day work that the UK is struggling with digital skills, but re-reading these stats still makes my mouth drop!

So teaching children about how to use technology, to embrace its possibilities and to utilise it, is fundamental, not only for their own personal engagement, but also, for the UK to remain a global player in this sector.

And it is for this reason that I think coding skills should be included in the school curriculum across the country.

Clare Low from Neon Rainbow Blog says:

I think its really important to roll with the times, technology is a big thing these days as opposed to when I was little but I would hate for them not to know how to utilise it when they move on from the school setting. My youngest has been learning to code at school and they even have individual iPads for work there too. Both of my boys aspirations are tech based they both want to go on to animate cartoons or video games which I think is brilliant. That said, they still very much love being outside, and drawing etc too.

Amazing news – we have some budding entrepreneurs ready to make the next Facebook! Or Minecraft!

Emma Chaplin from Our Fairy Tale Adventure also talks about how teaching coding can be a real benefit.

Technology is a part of life now and it is our role as parents to teach our children to use it safely. It is important to incorporate technology into our daily lives and there are so many age appropriate ways of teaching little ones about it, such as toys like the code – a – pillar to building, then coding a computer. Children are the future and as we move further into a technological age, it is important to allow them to move with with it.

And of course, it’s not just games and Youtube that technology can help with.

As Jodie Humphries from Maidenhead Mum discovered:

I know that I am guilty of letting my 5 year old and two year old have screen time when I need a few minutes to try and get things done. We’ve just come back from a holiday where we took the iPad and iPod but didn’t have wifi. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! My daughter learned to take photos for a holiday scrapbook and sang and danced along to a playlist of her favourite songs every morning while my 2 year old started doing some number and letter puzzles on the iPad. It made me realise that technology can be a real asset and we will be turning off wifi at home more often!

It seems all parents believe in the importance of technology and understand how it will be crucial to their children’s development.

So like many parents out there, we’ll be encouraging our daughter to use technology.

Not only for her own understanding of the world around her, but so she, like others, can see its potential and where her place in this world might be.

I’d love to know your thoughts and if your children are exploring technology in their day to day lives.

You might also like to read my Blog series on ‘My 5 Top Tech Wishes’ – a blog series that explores peoples ideas for technology that hasn’t been invented yet!

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