Are the children now under 12 growing up in a different world than their older college age siblings? How is it different and what does that mean for them?
New information technologies of the 21-st century are not only major drivers of progress, means of communication between nations, companies, universities, a new form of commerce, but also a powerful learning tool. Many children, even in undeveloped countries are addicted to computer games which attract them with dynamic scenes, causing thrilling experience. There are many opportunities to use information technology – from self-assembling sophisticated computer programs to creating your own website, from e-learning to seeing the world’s best collections of museums, libraries, or even to robbing banks. The question arises: how does this amazing artificial world of information affect the human psyche, and children’s psyche in particular? Under what conditions this kind of human activity contributes to personal development, and in which way?
Computer Technologies and Children
There are a lot of differences in the world perception between today’s children and their parents or even older siblings. Children today are getting a lot of information from the Internet, while their parents and older siblings had no such opportunity at all, or it was limited. On one hand – this is an opportunity to get access to the best libraries, art galleries, articles and other artistic and scientific potential of humanity; however, on the other hand, it creates considerable problems in child development. These problems can begin in infancy, when 2-year old child starts playing with parents’ tablet or smartphone. The development of fine motor skills is important for children at this age. Paton (2014) argues that “rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an “addiction” to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers.” Naturally parents who live in today’s fast-paced world sometimes even have no time for lunch, and often a tablet or smartphone becomes a rescue from an annoying child. Angry Birds mobile game guarantees an hour of rest for a tired mother. But in the future such education approach will entail great problems with the world perception and with child’s mental and physical development.
On the other hand, according to various studies there are some positive sides of using tablets vs paper sheet. Crescenzi, Jewitt and Price (2014) claimed that iPad can provide and support:
- the use of a wider range of types of touch;
- more continuous touch sequences;
- longer sequences of continuous touch;
- more complex sequences/repertoires of touch.
When combined, the above “gains” have the potential to support concentrated engagement with the screen, due to the sequence of actions and longer sequences of continuous touch. They also create the potential for continuous touch sequences that are limitless in length since the iPad enables continuous marking in contrast to the paper, where the need to return to the paint-palette to collect paint may “interrupt” the “flow” of interaction and decrease concentration (p. 92).
Some therapists argue that adolescents for whom social networking services and new technologies are replacing real life friends could have many problems in the future. But according to Grey (2012), “Computers are the most important tools of modern society. Why would we limit kids’ opportunities to play with them?”
In the same way we can use a brick to either break a window or build a house, digital technology can be used for good or bad, and teachers and parents can and should help their children make positive choices so they have positive experiences.
Crescenzi, L., Jewitt, C., Price, S. (2014). The role of touch in preschool children’s learning using iPad versus paper interaction. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, Vol. 37(2) 86-95.
Retrieved from http://mode.ioe.ac.uk/2014/07/18/the-role-of-touch-in-preschool-childrens-learning-using-ipad-versus-paper-interaction/
Grey, P. (2012, January 7). The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201201/the-many-benefits-kids-playing-video-games
Paton, G. (2014, April 15). Infants ‘unable to use toy building blocks’ due to iPad addiction. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10767878/Infants-unable-to-use-toy-building-blocks-due-to-iPad-addiction.html