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Dr Elizabeth Kilbey

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Technology for Good or Bad?

Posted: 12/02/2013 17:26

In a world dominated by technology, it is not unusual for parents to worry about what impact this is having on children.

In fact, we often hear that today's modern world is corrupting children and technology and media alike are having a negative impact on their lives. I guess this is understandable set against a backdrop of frequent internet horror stories. However, in my mind, technology is not corrupting in itself and this is the important distinction.

As adults we have a tendency to harp back to a childhood utopia when life was simpler, there was much less technology and we were all glad of it. But the fact is that our kids live in the here and now. And our 'modern technological lives' are their childhood utopias of the future. So, while our children may not be living the lifestyle we did, this certainly doesn't make it bad. Children embrace the world they live in and welcome all the advances and technology going on around them, much as we did with colour televisions and microwave ovens. This is essential, otherwise they will get left behind.

Importantly, technology also increasingly impacts on how children behave and learn. Anyone who has seen how quickly and skilfully children can use an iPad or tablet will know that it fits perfectly with how they learn and play. It's interactive, engaging and they get it.

I was also fascinated to see that research published by Lego supports this view in finding that technology savvy play sets produced more interaction with kids than their simpler versions. Playsets that had been enhanced with interactive technology resulted in more creative play and more communication and social interaction between children. I think, this shows that as parents, we need to feel confident about embracing the world our children are growing into- especially as, however hard we try, there is no way of changing or fighting it.

Technology has the potential to enhance the way our children live, to help them grow and learn and teach them skills for life, for example through learning money management skills. There are also websites and tools such as PKTMNY designed for exactly this reason.

We have to bear in mind the end goal that we all want as parents- it's not to completely shield our kids from the real world that they will grow into, leaving them vulnerable. Instead, we want to look forward to the moment they fly the nest, and equip them with life skills that allow them to go into the world as a self-sustaining adult at the age of 18.

 
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