Technology is a part of our lives, whether we like it or not. Parenting and teaching children in the twenty first century comes with many different challenges. Smart phones, Wifi, Tablets, and Bluetooth are part of everyday life, along with a digital diet of cookies and chips! Social media and online security have created a new set of dilemmas for teachers and parents to deal with, so how do we best approach the world of technology with children? If only we had all the answers!
We can choose to resist the use of technology in our households and classrooms, but in doing this are we preventing children from developing their knowledge about the world they live in? I know and understand that many parents and teachers are hesitant to embrace the world of technology in their home or learning environment. Some people choose to ban the use of devices in their homes or strictly limit screen time for children. The Australian Parents Council Inc. recommends children aged 2-5 years are limited to less than one hour screen time each day. Children aged 5-17 years are recommended to limit screen time to less than 2 hours a day to reduce the risk of a sedentary lifestyle. Is this achievable in the world we live in when educational institutions are using ipads for learning on a daily basis?
Children of today are growing up in a very different world than what we did. Information about any topic is easily found at the push of a button, without having to visit the local Library or flicking through some heavy, dust ridden encyclopedias! It is left up to parents and teachers to control that access to information for children, however the boundaries of control are often limited, as access to technology is everywhere you look. Children are dealing with social issues outside the hours of school, exacerbated by social media and the pressures to conform to the modern world. So how do we as educators and parents find the perfect balance of embracing technology into our children's lives? We are all growing and adapting to the Digital Era so there are several things that are important to consider:
Like everything in life, it's all about moderation so the use of technology for children is no exception to this rule. Finding the right balance for your children or students is often individual to each child and their needs. Finding a balance of activities that encourage getting outdoors, physical activity, creativity and mindfulness alongside technology allows for balanced growth.
Setting rules for appropriate technology use in the classroom and at home is important to set boundaries to prevent misuse. This might mean setting times each day for technology use or technology free times throughout the day or having strict classroom and home rules for digital devices. Different rules for different age groups may apply, along with age appropriate app use.
Talk with children openly and honestly when situations of technology misuse arise. We are all navigating this technology world together, so it is important to be able to communicate with children about any problems that may occur, especially with social media use.
It might be tempting to turn a blind eye to children's technology use, but it is important to be aware that new apps and technology are constantly evolving and it is essential for teachers and parents to educate themselves on what our children have access to.
Useful esafety information can be found here:
The balance of technology use that suits one individual may not suit another. Life is all about learning, the difficult part about dealing with Technology is that children seem to learn faster than parents and teachers! Technology is here to stay, and it is only going to be increasingly part of our lives in the future. We may as well embrace it!