The Light and Dark Shades of Technology

The future is digital. Smart phones and tablets with built-in cameras are commonplace in the first world. This is also changing rapidly as the technology goes global and it won’t be long…

As a parent the prospect is terrifying, for me it’s because of the horror stories surrounding teenagers and technology. There are also reservations expressed about young toddlers and children using iPads for games, entertainment and education and the risk of skipping any milestones associated with physical activity and play which aim to educate through 3-D interaction as opposed to the 2-D touch screen.

THE DARK SIDE

There’s a dark side … so if you’re like me and you believe that technology is an effective tool you might be interested in my personal reservations and how I am trying to address them. This is likely to remain a work in progress until she’s a fully functioning adult.

  1. Developmental – I make sure she doesn’t use the Tablet for long, not every day and make sure that she enjoys a range of physical activities targeted at her age range.
  2. Age appropriate information – I make sure that the use of the Tablet happens under my watchful eye. This is to cement the future expectation that the Internet will only be accessed in public areas of the house – ever.
  3. Advertising – I avoid the bold, invasive advertisements targeted at children on television and online, so will opt for the channels without advertising. If there’s a show that she likes, we will purchase the physical disks.
    When she happens to catch the rare advert, I explain that it’s visually entertaining but really they only made it that way to get you to spend money which is fine if you need something.
  4. Predators – The Internet remains off – unless I’ve allowed her to catch up on a show she’s missed using iPlayer (no adverts on BBC). When she’s playing her games, the tablet goes to airplane mode.

It is unrealistic to expect that simply by banning them from having these devices that you’re keeping them safe. They have friends who have devices and teenagers – due to their brains physically changing – have an impossible time controlling their impulses. This is why they drift off into the twilight zone for a few years.

Since it’s all rather pointless informing them after some little Snotbag has taken a photo of them under their dress, on the toilet and put a compromising picture online – without their permission, it’s probably best to tackle netiquette well in advance.
Unfortunately this needs to take place younger than you’d like.

In addition to the warnings about strangers, sweets and predators, they need to know:

  1. A child that’ll upload anyone’s picture online – for any reason – without permission  is not a real friend. Walk away and don’t be caught out. If it happens you, you will want to inform a responsible person and most importantly, Don’t EVER Be That Child.
  2. Information that goes online, tends to stay online – forever. A picture can be copied an infinite number of times.
  3. Be most wary of very friendly people online. Grown-ups intending harm will pretend that they’re your age, will say anything to talk you into meeting somewhere. They might say what they think you want to hear, this is not because they’re thoughtful or nice, but because they’re manipulative with sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies.
  4. Trust your instinct – even if you don’t fully understand why something feels off, if you feel that it is, just trust that it might be, accept that you don’t need to know the details and walk away.

THE LIGHT SIDE

Okay all the doom and gloom stuff out the way, technology is a wonderful educational tool. The future is digital and knowing how technology functions is as important as using the technology to have fun.

For one thing, the online resources, books, music, arts and movie-making applications that are available in a way never before, provide a wonderful creative outlet for children not to mention the opportunity to bond with them by spending fun time together, long after they leave their playful toddler years behind.

Some of the benefits are:

  1. Learning vital, transferable skills – Learning to use media properly will give your child an edge at school, university and out in the greater world. Not only by creating content but understanding how that content is arranged and displayed. It can also go deeper into programming and understanding the integral components of technology.
  2. Memories online “forever” – It also means that a permanent digital record of memories and their growing up years will be accessible when they’re adults. Naturally being careful about what you put online – is obvious, but there is information that is great to store online.
  3. Games really help your brain develop as well as remain in tip-top shape. Search for games on TED.com – some great speakers. 90% of children play games, these will be the gamers of the future. The average age of gamers now is 33.

SIDE NOTE

As a perfect rainy day project – and available in this blog only for a limited time – is a video made by my daughter and me, reading one of her most favourite books. Made entirely on the iPad … taking the photos, linking them together, recording the audio track and adding music and credits …  this was a fantastic project we did over several days.

It’s hard when you’re working long hours, experience financial and professional stress and the beauty of this sort of activity is giving your own inner child a little room to stretch, play and enjoy life – in addition to all the other benefits about keeping your brain healthy.

What do you think? Are you totally pro or totally anti? I think that while we’re all experiencing this new area of discovery, it’s vital to talk about what we think. I’d love to read your comments.

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