Depending on which generation you were born, do you not feel that twinge of jealousy when you see a toddler confidently play with a tablet? How young can be too young for kids to use tablets? Maybe the mere thought of seeing the ease with which they use it is what unnerves us or maybe because it’s relatively new to us. But, the major question is, since books seem to be getting antiquated, maybe kids starting with technology is way preferable.
Jonathan Maitland in his ITV Tonight program ‘Too young for technology?’ revealed that 70percent of children were comfortable with a laptop, tablet or smartphone. A survey also showed that 47 per cent of parents think it is important for kids to be familiar with technology and 17 per cent of kids under three have their personal smartphone or tablet. The debate had some negative sentiments including that of German Neuroscientist, Professor Manfred Spitzer who deemed it a crime to give a kid a tablet and recommended banning digital media from German classrooms. The consensus though was to allow for moderation thus developing the kids for an increasingly digitalised world.
Emma Asprey, Senior Lecturer at Bath Spa University mentioned the easy interface of devices such as iPads and argued that there should be no fixed age for children to start using technology. Going further, she definitely approved using technology in class as not only positive, but additional to the resources already available. While stating that it be used in the right way, she recommended that parents ensure kids use technology sensibly at home.
In a dissimilar view, The American Academy of Pediatrics, cited in the program were of the opinion that children under two should be discouraged from using technology and their use of devices and watching television should be less than two hours a day. Citing their brain development, their claim is that 80percent of brain growth takes place during this time and though they have no proof as to the effects technology could have on them, there is the worry that a lack of socializing resulting from excessive use of devices would occur.
Supporting this view also is Baroness Greenfield, Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford University who stated that a decline in physical human contact meant children struggled to formulate basic social skills and emotional reactions. She continues by mentioning that she does not necessarily think it`s technology having a negative effect on children`s communication skills. Apps that allow for creativity, is her recommendation for schools but they should do well to balance it with other activities.
Matt Britland, Director of Realise Learning and head of ICT at Kingston Grammar advocates that if used properly, technology could help in a child`s development. He predicted a future in which using the internet to find information and using social networks for productive use would be the next thing. HE postulated an easy access to education and envisaged a new set of independent kids who could learn remotely and would not need to be spoon fed while speaking at a Zurich Future History Now event..
It is still plausible to say that if technology is used in a balanced way, and IT integrated across the whole curriculum, it could enhance the learning experience through the scope of pedagogical materials and the modes through which these experiences are communicated. It is highly likely that children who grew up with technology will better recognize the importance of technological skills but, in no way should this be to the detriment of reading, writing and their use of physical toys.
Emma Asprey continues in her position by mentioning that while working with schools on IT for 15 years, she noticed a good response to having new technology in the classroom. Those new to it pick it quite easily and this she attributes to the interface of the tablets and how they work. They are quite easier to use than a computer with keyboard and mouse. She concludes by saying that although there are divergent views on the use of technology, most educational Professionals find it a real benefit as long as it is used moderately and correctly.