The Daily Mail - Mail Online has explained that a new report has shown children can use iPads before they can use basic skills such as how to tie their shoelaces. It seems as though children are learning how to use iPads and iPhones before other important skills, such as drawing, cutting, writing and reading.
What is the important question in 21st Century learning?
The important question is not how much time are children spending on technology, but how much time are they devoting to other necessary life skills? Children don't need to be encouraged onto iPads and other computers - they are alreadt doing that. No, the important question is, "Do these new forms of technology present a new modern day problem for learning in the 21st Century?"
The consequences of modern technology
The reality is that children are not out there climbing trees like they used to do, or playing games outside building stronger core muscles and gross muscles, necessary for development and other writing skills. We've not had to consider these problems before or the consequences of these problems - at least not since the TV was first invented! While concerns used to be about how many hours of television children watched and having dinner in front of the TV, the question now is more along the lines of, "What are children doing while they are watching TV?" For most, the answer is playing on the iPad, Facebook, Instagram, games and multiple other social media and apps. This is all good and well if they are getting the balance of daily exercise, social time with friends and family and develop creative thinking strategies. My concern is that the very technology that is supposed to empower children in taking ownership of their own learning, is making them more dependent on their parents, while parents have to carry their bags and tie their shoe laces at a much older age than they used to. How does this empower children?
Empowering children in the 21st Century
If we are to truly empower children in the 21st Century, then we need to not only equip children with the technological experiences that create innovation and creative thinking, but we need to balance the scale with an equal amount of social, physical and life skills that they need. Its not enough to give children an iPad without inspiring what activity could be taking place on the iPad. Creating a family game or challenge using the technology can help bring about a sense of purpose and learning using the technology, rather than the technology being a means to an end.
Some ideas for families
- play a family game like scrabble on the iPad together
- create a research challenge together / plan a dream holiday
- design the new family dream home together on the iPad and discuss it together
- create a family album that everyone can contribute to using photos on the iPad
- write short stories to read to the family before bed
- go out for an ice-cream and park a kilometre away from the shops and enjoy walking together
- visit a park and learn the beauty of being still for a few minutes in the day
- play sport together - soccer, cricket, tennis and touch rugby