/ Parenting, Technology

Is technology now a natural part of growing up?

Children using gadgets on sofa

Now more than ever, technology is playing a huge part in our daily lives. But while technology can be a means of learning, is it preventing children from being children?

According to a study conducted last year, 66% of kids aged between four and six used a tablet regularly. And even younger kids are apparently taking to tablets too, with 61% of three-year-olds and 38% of two-year-olds being ‘iTods’.

The question is; are these children missing out or is technology now a natural part of growing up?

Living without wi-fi

My little sister, only six years old, has unfortunately devoted her life to the iPad, knowing how to operate it nearly as well as me. Spending a summer abroad at my grandma’s wi-fi-less house took a massive toll on my little sister who didn’t know what to do to entertain herself without the aid of technology!

’Why don’t you play with your toys?’ I had suggested, but according to my sibling, she needed the iPad to do that.

It doesn’t stop there. Children are being exposed to technology everywhere, from home to school. More and more primary schools across the UK are investing in tablets and other forms of advanced gadgetry to boost learning. At my secondary school, interactive white boards are a regular occurrence in the classroom.

Granted, technology has advanced at a remarkable rate, so it’s crucial for children to be introduced to it an early age. But is this introduction to the world of smartphones and tablets turning more and more kids away from the essence of being a child?

Kids and smartphones

The topic of children owning smartphones has previously been discussed here on Which? Convo. In the poll, 31% voted that the appropriate age for a child to own a smartphone is between the ages of 15 and 17. Some went further – 25% said you should be over 18. Although I got my first phone when I was 13, I agree with this comment from Lessismore:

‘I think they (children) need to grow into the responsibility of having an iPhone.’

While technology is a brilliant tool for learning and development, I think it does have its disadvantages. Technology is highly addictive and the exposure to young children can leave them depending far too much on a piece of gadgetry and turning away from what being a child is supposed to be.

So, do you think technology is taking away the essence of childhood or is it a gateway to success?

Epifania Encarnado says:
7 July 2014

People are really becomiing addicts to iphones and tablets as if they can’t live without, whichIi think lost the real existence of things and emotions, all has become virtual and imaginary without physical and actual contacts. That is the sad part of advance technology and stilll evolving…

We need to be careful what we mean by “technology”. We have always been keeping up with it – at least those who were interested. I see it as keeping pace with scientific and engineering developments – so in the past, young and old played with crystal sets, built radios, made mechanical devices with Meccano, read up on aeroplanes and built models – etc. In other words, those who were interested explored the nuts and bolts of technology. Being able to use an i-phone or look up information on a computer is using it as a tool, – if simply used to communicate,as a different form of library and to play games is using it only as a different medium. What it can do is to allow us all – children included – to access information we would otherwise have great difficulty finding, exploring this information and using it; this is where new technology is so valuable – but only to those who make the effort to use it constructively. It’s no different to when TV became widespread, and allowed those who wanted to, to idle their time away watching mindless programmes (it’s even worse now!).

I wish that modern technology had been available when I was a child. Adults who criticise kids for spending too much time with their gadgets often spend hours watching TV, films, sport or whatever their own interests are. 🙂

Like Malcolm, I grew up doing practical things and was fortunate to have very supportive parents who did not mind the barrage of questions. It would have been wonderful to have been able to use computers to explore everything that interested me.

I believe there is a lot of opportunity to make much more use of technology to integrate fun with learning at all ages.

Modern technology often helps rather than hinders interpersonal skills and my main concern is that it can be responsible for us not getting enough exercise, irrespective of whether we are young or old.

When I read this blog I felt pretty sick at the idea of 6 year old’s having iPads. There really is no need for it.

I have to admit my laptop broke down at the start of this week and for 3 days I could not do anything. I did feel lost without it, but I use it for my work, (no laptop = no income), i use it for my music, plus I use it as my TV too. So without it I really could not do anything.

But on the other hand my boyfriend is not really into all this tech stuff. He does not even have a smartphone. But a old Nokia instead, he doesn’t use social media which is strange as I am a twitter addict. I do find all this refreshing in a way, when we go on days out I am always checking my mobile, tweeting, facebooking etc and it would be nice if i could turn myself off from the online world every now and again.

Whilst I think a 6 year old is very lucky to have such an expensive gadget, and hopefully is going to look after it, whether they benefit from it depends upon how they are encouraged to use it. If they just play mindless games, then apart from getting familiar with some computer use it seems an expensive indulgence. If, however, they use it to access information, to use constructive software, then it can only benefit them. However, none of us should ever become dependent upon these devices – they have a habit of letting us down when they are most needed. I keep paper records of important information, save important files separately, but still feel deprived on the very rare occasions my internet goes down..

Kids should be made to amuse themselves for a period each day without technology .
Having said that, I had other kids to teach me games and amusements.
That may not be available today.

Mandy A says:
11 July 2014

My grand-daughter is not quite 2 and a half, she can operate my Samsung Note smart phone…she can identify the correct icon and scrolls through the picture gallery, zooming in and out, playing video clips etc. She also knows how to operate the smart TV and DVD controls (recognises the shapes for the play, pause and stop buttons) and my sons laptop to watch videos, stream childrens TV and talk on Skype. However her usage is restricted and minimal and she is always supervised. She spends the majority of her days playing with real toys both indoors and in the garden, she enjoys painting and drawing, playdough, jigsaw puzzles, has a great imagination when playing with her animals and TV themed playsets. She also loves making music, singing and ‘playing’ the piano, drums and various stringed and small percussion instruments (my son is a musician), loves books and is always read bedtime stories. She walks/runs/bounces a couple of miles everyday with one or both parents, baby brother and dog, swims once or twice a week and attends ‘forest school’ with her dad one morning a week. In addition she loves to help with the housework and cooking, and takes great delight in helping to look after her 6 week old brother. I don’t think there is much danger of her becoming a couch potato glued to a screen! Hopefully she will find technology a positive adjunct to a full and happy life as i have done!

I remember the first widely available TVs and the fears what this new technology would do to us all. I am 67 and proud to say I love keeping up with new technology but am concerned at people in my age group who don’t or are frightened to keep up. I hate to think that anybody would believe that we need to some how shield our children from new technology. It’s progress, get used to it.

I would love to be a child again – only to avail of the wonderful technology available to me today. I would instinctively know how to use it all and not be afraid of what it can do. I thought having a calculator was wonderful in my youth but compared to the technology of today it was zero on the advancement scale. I was ecstatic watching a 20″ black and white TV in the days of two or three part time TV channels. Today’s youth can watch hundreds of channels round the clock on a little colour screen, on the bus, train or cafe or where ever they wish. Encyclopaedia Britannia the newspaper archive and your local library, all in a little plastic/metal box that you hold in one hand. It’s mind boggling!

I think parents must lay down rules about the amount of time their children spend on tablets, computers and electronic games. We had such rules about TV in our youth but it was easier to police then as we did not have TV’s in our rooms.