The debate about the impact of technology on children will no doubt continue well into the future. It’s argued by some that too much exposure to technology can diminish brain function and that it hinders a child’s social skills because of the lack of socialization with others.
On the other hand, the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution mean that, for any youngster today, the internet and technology are crucial tools.
Any parent should include some element of technology in their child’s life so that the child can be prepared for the future. When used appropriately, technology develops crucial skills, such as research ability, comprehension, coding knowledge, and so on.
Let’s look at some of the ways in which technology can be a positive force in a child’s life.
Most children have been exposed to using a mobile phone by at least the age of 10. With the 4th Industrial Revolution approaching, children need to learn certain skills from a young age to make them employable in the future.
Coding is a valuable skill, allowing one to create the behind‐the scenes text codes that make videos, webpages, applications and technology work.
Kids from as young as 5 can learn coding skills through playing games like Hopscotch, Tynker and ScratchJr. These games can be accessed via mobile phones.
Although disguised as pure fun, gaming consoles have over the last decade become essential for home learning.
The Xbox, for example, includes free games and apps for both adults and kids such as the Rosetta Stone, which teaches languages like English, Spanish and French. In the app you travel to a variety of locations around the world and engage in conversation with locals, practicing the language as you visit and discover locations across the globe in the comfort of your home.
Insects, another game available for free via the Xbox app store, teaches kids scientific facts about the tiny creatures around us. Families with HD‐enabled televisions can make use of the enhanced graphics, showing players a realistic view of what life looks like from the insect’s point of view and revealing the colours that insects see in. Done in a visually stimulating interactive layout with enhanced visuals and sound and graphics, the game teaches kids in a way that textbooks can’t.
Learning is enhanced when educational material is presented in a variety of ways, over and above the typical teacher and class format.
For toddlers under three the Nintendo Wii console has a variety of interactive games available such as the Nickelodeon Fit which combines exercise, fun, achievement tracking and parent and child collaboration. Games like this and Wii Sports are specifically designed to hone in on hand-eye coordination, memory and body movement skills children need to develop at this age.
Gaming laptops give children a head start through gaining an understanding of the basic elements of using a PC. With exposure to how to turn a computer on, and the basics of email, typing and email search, a child will be ahead of their peers.
Microsoft offers students and schools a free version of Microsoft Office for those with access to a computer. This includes access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and additional classroom tools and exercises.
With regulated screen time, technology can be immensely beneficial to the growth and development of a child’s mind. However, since technology tools can be expensive, some adults may balk at the cost. But, one should consider buying second‐hand from Gumtree or OLX, or going the Rent‐to‐Own route through Teljoy.