The phrase ‘children and technology’ leave many of us with an unfavorable taste in our mouths. Our initial thoughts: What about loss of creativity, ….patience, …..diligence? What about the damage to their attention span? What about the dangers of porn or access to material they would otherwise not have access to? These all must be considered and addressed, yes, but I feel that we have spent many a day on this side of the fence (negative), and it may just be time to explore the other (the positive).
I was once very critical about children and technology. I want my children to read good books, play freely outdoors, be critical thinkers, and surely technology will hinder these goals! However, I recently had an encounter with my daughter that forced me to rethink my fundamental assumptions/blindness.
My age group (35), give or take, finds itself in the middle of two worlds. When I was younger, an everyday consumer use of the internet was just coming around. I remember being blown away when a teacher in high school showed me how I could look up guitar tab to practically any song I could think of. And simultaneously, on the other hand, this same age group has since become well-equipped due to developments such as Myspace, Facebook, smart phones, etc. which we have all developed an acute understanding of. Our children, due to the times, will already be a step ahead, that is, unless we decide to keep them in a primitive state until they are off on their own!
A few weeks ago I was working on creating a logo in program called Sketch, when my daughter came along and asked me what I was doing. I explained, showed her a few neat things and she asked me to let her try. Of course, our kids have dabbled in the Paint program before, but this program was far advanced for her, right? Long story short: I let her sit down and showed her a few things. The end result: A very interesting and unique creation….one that she was enthusiastically proud of.
On Further Thinking
I began to wonder; what if my daughter has a knack for such a thing? In addition, what if she was actually taught how to use the program? She loves to draw and is good at it. She also has a very creative mind. Lets take it even further; what if she was taught the ins and outs of the program and became somewhat proficient at it? What if it was part of her homeschooling curriculum? What if by say 15 (she is currently 8) she had mastered the program? What if by 16 she started a part time, side-business that generated income to help her save some money for future endeavors? What if it was Photoshop? or Final Cut Pro?
Technology is advancing rapidly. There is no turning back. One thing that is desperately deficient in this next generation is an entrepreneurial spirit. We laugh (or scoff) at our kids flipping through our smartphones or tablets, but should we instead be looking to help them advance and direct them in proper and effective usage? If our child looks to be skilled at graphic design, should we instruct them in Photoshop?
Given that college degrees seem to be somewhat useless today, could we be teaching them skills to get ahead from the outset regardless if they decide not to join the 4 year frat party/debt club? In other words, can we redeem technology such that our children can take dominion in the tasks God has put before them. Editing videos or creating logos for others (or even for a home family business) could be a great summer job and excellent business experience for any high schooler.
The opportunities are endless and of course the warnings are there concerning children and technology. Yet it starts with the understanding that we can be proactive in our children’s inevitable encounters with technology and hopefully will take some time to consider the positives to it.