Techonology and Children
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We are firmly in the Age of Technology. The internet was created in my lifetime. I didnt even have an email address until I was in my 20s. Children born within the last decade have never known life without these things. There are now tablets on the market targeted at 3-year olds. This paper will examine the effects of technology on the children of today and how technology is transforming our culture.
Skophammer (2012) states the conundrum of the relationship between culture and technology by saying, “Defining culture is much like defining technology, in that it cannot be separated from human activity.” The internet, mobile phones, texting, email, and social network sites have created a world that is very different from 20 years ago. There are clear cultural differences between generations based on that technology. As I sat next to my 16-year old helping him fill out an online job application, I watched him multi-task in amazing fashion on his laptop. Hes listening to music on Pandora, checking his email, finding details he needs for the application via Google, and Facebook chatting with not one but three friends. For Christmas, we bought our three youngest children, ages 2, 7, and 9 tablets in an attempt to get them off of my iPad. All of this has me thinking about how the children of this generation will be different than the adults of today. This paper will explore the effects of technology on our children; outline both positive and potentially negative effects on how they interact, and how technology is changing our culture.
Today almost everyone relies on multiple forms of technology–laptops, smartphones, and tables are just some of the tools that have changed the way we conduct our daily lives. This is true even for our very youngest children as they are increasingly exposed to technology, with companies targeting the youngest consumers. There are products on the market such as the nabi 2, which promote themselves as “the fastest, most powerful tablet in the world, made for kids”. Parikh (2009) outlines guidance based on research about how young children learn and develop, as published in a joint statement from NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Childrens Media at Saint Vincent College that includes:
When used intentionally and appropriately, technology is an effective tool to support leaning and development. When used within the framework of developmentally appropriate context, to support learning goals for individual children. Technology is best when utilized to expand a childs knowledge in hands-on, engaging and empowering ways.
It is important to limit childrens use of technology and media. Adults must carefully consider and set limits for childrens use of technology. Public health organizations offer recommendations about the appropriate amount of screen time for children and this extends to all forms of technology.
Educators must be more selective when choosing technology to use with infants and toddlers. For children under the age of 2, the passive and non-interactive use of technology should be prohibited. It should be limited to interactions that support responsive interactions between adult and child and strengthen adult-child relationships.
The early childhood field needs ongoing research on the use of technology with young children. Research findings help educators better understand how young children use and learn with technology and identify short-term and long-term effects.
A 2005 report by the Childrens Partnership found that most American children have access to technology tools and are reaping benefits in the areas of education, health, and economic opportunity. However, Trotter (2005) points out that the advocacy group found that “many children who are from poor families, or are Latino, African-American, or Native American, are missing out.” The study also found that more than half of the nations children ages 7 to 17 use home computers in school assignments and public schools are almost universally connected to the internet.
A 2009 study published in the journal Science from significant research conducted by the University of California showed that “our increasing exposure to visual information technology has led to a decline in our skills of critical thinking and analysis” (2009, The Ecologist). This and other studies indicate that while our visual literacy may be improving as a result of technology and exposure to it, our ability to think and reflect is threatened as we hurry the transition from print to visual media. Patricia Greenfield,