By Lucy Wyndham
Technology is booming with 57% of children age three to seventeen currently using the Internet at home, compared to 11% in 1997. Yet this doesn’t include the use of other technology by children including games, phones, electronic books, tablets and other devices which are now readily available. There are concerns about children and technology as too much exposure can potentially rewire their brains or lead to obesity or attention issues. Yet, technology can also be incredibly beneficial for DC’s young children and their education so long as parents and teachers are monitoring usage and ensuring that technology does not take over.
Tablets and games
Research suggests that playing video games can enhance various aspects of attention and low-level vision, can improve multi-tasking and switching tasks and speed up perceptual processing. There are many options of tablets and games for children and it remains a personal choice when a parent decides their child is ready to use a tablet. These devices vary in cost and design and some may be more effective for children in relation to capacity and travel ability. ITunes and Google Play offer hundreds of education apps focussed on age and crossword apps such as Montessori Crosswords or Redstone Crossword puzzles, help with letter formation and problem solving. Learning Upgrade offers English language or math for beginners to an advanced level or there is Learnia, set in a 3D world, for grades one to three for math and spelling.
The Effectiveness of Smart Boards
Smart boards are increasingly common in the classroom and have changed the way educators teach and children learn. Smart boards are touch sensitive devices which can enhance the effectiveness of lessons as they allow learning to be more enjoyable and can engage students in rewarding activities. They are effective for presenting large amounts of information on one screen and teachers can access examples from YouTube or other sites to demonstrate their teaching. The boards are interactive allowing children to operate the board or chose an answer and they also save on paper.
The downsides of technology
While there are many positives to using technology in education it’s important to remember that the use of technology needs to be managed and controlled. A child’s brain is still developing and frequent exposure to technology can wire their brain differently to those in older generations who have not had such exposure. This doesn’t have to be negative as it may help children to effectively scan information, but it does depend on much exposure the child has and the type of technology used. It’s also important to ensure children are not dependent on technology and still take time to play outside and interact with friends. Childhood obesity continues to increase, so physical exercise cannot be replaced by technology in schools or at home.
Technology is a significant part of today’s children’s education and it has many benefits to enhance learning and practice. However, too much screen time may increase obesity, attention disorders and a lack of social skills. It’s important for parents and schools to encourage outdoor play, imaginative and unstructured play, games and reading without technology. Technology needs to co exist with other activities and learning free from it to give a balanced approach to education.
Lucy Wyndham began her career as a history teacher before taking a step back to spend more time with her family. Now she writers on many topics including the intersection of childhood, education, and technology