Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is technology putting children ahead of the curve?

After church last night, I was talking with a few friends when my friend's two year old, soon to be three, son, Drew, came up showing off pictures someone had pulled up on their phone. He kept asking his mom for her phone so he could see more pictures. I pulled out my iPhone because I had a picture of Drew and his friend Noah from a few weeks ago. Drew right away knew how to push the pictures to get to the next one. He's not even three yet!!

Today when I was browsing Mashable, I came across the new Sesame Street iPhone app, Elmo's Monster Maker. The article included a brief video of Elmo showing how to create a monster.

So how do these to things relate?

Technology is becoming simpler and simpler that children as young as two, if not younger, are able to use. But do they understand what they are using? And what are the implications of children adapting to technology at such a young age?

Children know how to navigate their parents cell phones, how to use computers and how to program the DVR to record their cartoon shows. Are schools able to keep up with the technology to provide children everything they need to make learning interesting? Or will we be able to "unplug" children long enough to memorize their multiplication tables?

I guess my main issue/question is: are children ahead or behind the curve intellectually because of technology?

I would love to hear your input!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Can we unplug the digital nation?

When I was in college, there were several specials we watched in class. We watched Still Killing Us Softly twice, we watched several specials about advertising, we watched Growing Up Online and many more.

Growing Up Online was one that struck me the most. The majority of my life I have been in one way or another around computers and technology. I was not 100% immersed in it like the sixteen year olds today are. I remember having an old Apple computer we had to write prompts to play until about kindergarten.

The biggest turning point for me with technology and the internet was probably around third grade. For Christmas we opened a new color computer, and our parents bought AOL dialup connection for us.

Yesterday PBS aired a followup on Growing Up Online called Digital Nation.

Digital Nation is about how everyone is wired in. People are always using a phone, an mp3 player, a GPS or a computer. The time people spend away from technology is shrinking and soon might only be the time we are sleeping. Which that might not even be possible seeing how I have sleep texted before, and I have a few friends who have as well.

I started thinking about how if we unplugged for just a little longer during the day we could perform better at what we are doing. For example, volleyball practice. I help coach two different volleyball teams. Each practice the girls walk in while texting, listening to music or talking on the phone.

First of all, why a fourth grader has a cell phone blows my mind. I didn't have one until I was 17.

What if there was a buffer in place on each side of practice? Ten minutes prior to practice all electronic devices should be turned off and would stay off and out of sight until five minutes after practice. The girls would then only have volleyball to worry about instead of who is texting me.

Now how can we apply this?

Unplug at night. I know it can be hard. I have tried my best to make sure when I get home to leave my computer stowed away until the morning or only use it for no longer than 30 minutes a night. This has caused me to find other things to do in the evenings. But the hardest part is having an iPhone. I can jump on my phone and do almost everything I could do on my computer.

Buffer your morning. This is by far the hardest for me. Don't use your computer or phone until a specific time. Since I love sleeping, when my alarm goes off for the fifth or sixth time in the morning I usually check all my email from my phone before getting up.

Try this for a few days and see what happens. See how much extra time you find in your day that you think you are missing. Those extra 5-7 hours you want to put into the day you might find.