On my way into work earlier in the week, there was an article on the Radio about the rising number of young children that are lacking in social and dexterity skills but give them an iPad and they know exactly what to do.
According to teachers, some infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks or have little or no dexterity in their fingers because we are living in a ‘swipe a screen’ society.
It can also be known to have serious effects on the children’s social and physical development as some would rather play games on-line than play outdoors in the fresh air and mix with other children.
I found an article online by Mark Montgomery, a teacher from Northern Ireland who quoted the following:
“It is our job to make sure that the technology is being used wisely and productively and that pupils are not making backward steps and getting obsessed and exhibiting aggressive and anti-social behaviours.”
“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 can and should help their pupils make positive choices so they have positive experiences.”
This is a fair point…imagine life without the Internet or the technology we have and use in our everyday life. I reckon the majority of people who read this have got at least one smart phone or tablet in their possession, then add to that what their partner and children have too. It is a way of life and the ‘addiction’ to these gadgets will only get worse the more advanced they become. Let’s face it, there’s not much you can’t do on them and we are living in such a fast paced society where we want to be able to do stuff ‘on the go‘.
Being in my 40’s (cough cough) I have experienced the ‘best of both worlds’…. When I was growing up, all the family would meet at my Grandparents house on a Sunday afternoon and the cousins would go outside and play Ackee 1,2,3 or Werewolves (don’t ask!!) while the ‘oldies‘ sat round chatting. Or we’d play family board games…Now the first thing that happens is “what’s your wifi password?” and both adults and children are glued to their phones/tablets!
We spent hours and hours as a kid building things out of Lego, now you can do it all online with Minecraft (that’s how I how see the game, it’s basically ‘Lego online’…), without having the added pain of standing on a piece with bare feet!!
In classrooms they have ‘Smart White Boards’ that are just amazing compared to having to write everything out in chalk on a Blackboard (and having to duck when the teacher threw the blackboard rubber in your direction…) and last but not least, good old Google!!
The amount of time I spent in the local library researching things for my homework and paying to get stuff photocopied so I could get home at a decent time was just ridiculous. Now I find myself saying to the kids ”Google it”!!
Does that make me a bad parent or is it just becoming a way of life? I fully appreciate there needs to be boundaries so kids aren’t just given an iPad to ‘shut them up’ while their parents check out Facebook on their phone but you can get some really interesting, Educational Apps so the kids are learning through play (as long as you join in too). With older children there’s YouTube. Some kids who can be quite shy in the ‘real world’ can have a whole different persona when sat in front of a screen and are able express themselves.
Things are never going to go back to ‘the good old days’ so it’s just a matter of finding healthy ways to adapt.
After all, our children are our future.