Yes – here are our 5 reasons why children's tech is essential in 2022
Think about all the devices we use on a daily basis. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, monitors, TVs, speakers, and more. Now think about all the technology that surrounds us. WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and the list goes on. We’re surrounded by tech and sometimes it’s not clear if technology is even good for us. Is technology good for kids? What are the positives of technology for children? If we’re not sure if we’re using tech in a healthy way for ourselves, how can we make it work for our kids?
It’s clear that engagement with technology has notable pros and cons for children, but the positives ultimately outweigh the negatives. The key is for parents and kids to use technology consciously, and not just passively, and to watch high quality content. Here are five notable benefits to keep in mind when answering this question in your family.
1. Cognitive development
The first benefit has to do with a child’s cognitive abilities. Using devices and especially playing games have been shown to aid some aspects of cognitive development.
Multiple studies have shown that gaming helps with attention, working memory, and processing speed, and has also shown to enhance reading outcomes for dyslexic children. In fact, children who played games before adolescence and stopped still performed better with working memory tasks, which require mentally holding and manipulating information to get a result. Games also enhanced children’s creativity in a way that using a device for other purposes did not achieve.
A University of Rochester study demonstrated that playing action video games in particular trains people to make the right decisions faster due to a heightened sensitivity to what’s going on around them. This benefit extends beyond the actual activity of playing video games to everyday activities like multitasking, keeping track of people in a crowd, and navigating around town.
Playing a video game on a device is an active task, regardless of whether the game is about solving puzzles, moving a character in space, or some other free expression. It’s certainly not an idle activity.
2. Builds healthy relationship with tech early
Our kids will experience technology at some point, so it’s better to do it on our own terms at our own pace. Early exposure can help build a healthy relationship with technology and create healthy habits during a time of high neuroplasticity, when the brain is most adaptable.
When kids learn about tech directly from their parents, they share your vocabulary about it so important points don’t get lost in translation. They’ll be better equipped to explain their ideas and problems as they arise. This also opens the dialogue with parents early so that when an incident occurs, it won’t be the first time parents are talking to their kids about technology and its complexities.
It’s the same with any major topic you want to create a psychologically safe space for – when you have a healthy relationship with tech and share it with your kids, they’ll follow.
3. Creates interest in tech
One of the biggest questions we get asked is whether tech is good for learning. What we know for sure is that tech and learning will continue to go hand in hand in the future. The conscious use of technology and a healthy relationship with it can foster a curiosity that improves academic development, career development, and professional competencies.
Tech literacy and firsthand experiences with many forms of technology are useful in school and in STEM jobs, which are projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by 8.8% from 2017 to 2029, and specifically software development projected to grow 22%. STEM is not only one of the fastest growing job sectors, but also one of the most financially rewarding. The variety of jobs will also continue to expand as new technology gets developed every year.
An additional benefit of getting to know technology early is to truly understand it and develop critical thinking skills around it. When kids learn how their devices, games, and shows work, or even start coding, they come to understand that it’s science, not magic.
4. Keeps up with the modern world
The pandemic revealed how quickly the world can change, and tech literacy went a long way in helping us adapt to the changes we had to make. When we were forced to stay inside, we relied heavily on our devices to keep us connected and sane. Our older children participated in remote learning at a scale we had never seen before.
Engaging with emerging tech will prepare our kids for whatever happens next. Things we’re only being introduced to now like VR, the blockchain, and the Metaverse may become commonplace in the coming years, and these technologies may change the world in meaningful ways. Our children will benefit from not only being prepared to live with these technologies, but to thrive with them.
5. Widens perspective
High quality content delivered through devices can widen a child’s world with information and stimulation that can’t be experienced as easily through any other medium. The right content can provide a myriad of perspectives that help a child’s ability to reason and think critically, empathize with others, and widen their world views. When we ask “is technology bad for kids’ social skills,” the answer is that it depends on the usage.
Children are malleable and will start seeing things and following along with whatever we show on our devices. It’s our responsibility as parents to be mindful of the content we show our kids, the level of engagement with the games or content, and the conversations we have with them afterwards. Technology isn’t necessarily good or bad for kids in isolation. It’s the cumulative impact of technology that comes from fostering a healthy relationship with it from an early age.
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