Technology astounds me. I have this thought often. Just in my short life span there have been such incredible advances in technology. I vividly remember sitting next to a guy on a plane when I was 15 years old. I was flying back from a trip with my parents to visit my grandparents winter "home" (we drove them there in their motorhome which they lived in) in Quartzsite, Arizona. I naturally had homework to complete, so I brought out my grade nine science text book and started reading about scuba diving which was assigned to me. The gentlemen next to me, dressed in a nice suit interjected, "Have you ever been scuba diving?"
I looked at him and thought, 'Dude I'm from Manning, Alberta,' but politely responded "No, I haven't." He began to explain to me everything and more than my text book could offer me. He told about his life. That he was 28 years old (I kid you not I remember this like it was yesterday) and that he lived in Cleveland but was in Las Vegas for the big technology conference. He told me something that has since stuck with me: "One day we will have phones where you can send pictures." (Remember this was 15 years ago.) My jaw dropped to the floor, I couldn't believe what he was telling me.
And sure enough we do...and a whole lot more. The debate rages on about introducing technology to children. Should we or shouldn't we? Do we or don't we? Does it assist in learning or hinder learning? We are in a critical time of technological advances. So much so that the generational research has labeled the next generation the iGeneration...pretty telling. My father believed that his children should be exposed to computers. We always had the latest in technology at our house because my father valued it and he believed it would help us in the workforce, and boy has it ever. My computer skills have enabled me to really get ahead in education and in my career.
What about introducing it in classrooms? At ABC Head Start we are always looking at best practices in learning. As a non-profit early learning program we would have to think this through strategically, as gaining technology is expensive and we need to make sure the children and families would benefit. Our teachers are wonderful at introducing technology in their classrooms that is readily available and at their disposal. There are new ways of learning, new ways of communicating, and great ways to engage children.
All 4 of my nephews know their way around an iPhone and iPad much better than some of my co-workers (sorry co-workers.) This picture is of one of my nephews who needed a band-aid because he was diagnosed with 'extensive iPad use due to Grandma not being able to set limits.' One of my co-workers told me today that her son, who is 3 years old, knows how to order a pizza from an app on her phone. I can imagine there may be a few unwanted pizza's showing up at her door in the future.
So let me weigh in...should we expose our children to technology? ABSOLUTLEY. Is there a place for technology in the classroom? OF COURSE. We are raising children for a time that we will not see and you bet that time includes technology. But in this technological era let us not forget there is no substitute for human interaction and belonging - in healthy, large doses.