It’s no secret that our culture is glued to technology; you virtually can’t go anywhere without seeing someone staring into at least one hand-held glowing screen. We’ve already spoken about the influence that technology has in the classroom, but what about outside the classroom? Is technology helping or hurting the growth and development of our students? In a culture that is growing seemingly more and more dependent on these gadgets, how can we ensure our students are accessing technology that will benefit their learning? In light of the holiday season, children everywhere will be asking for the latest trends in video games and technology. So, before you pass judgement about “too much technology,” find out how our culture’s influx of gizmos and gadgets is actually beneficial to student learning and development!
Introducing your children to technology at an early age is a common topic of conversation and controversy. The American Academy of Pediatrics published a study that discouraged media use and television viewing for children under age 2, advising there were more negative effects than positive ones. Like everything else, technology and television exposure should be used in moderation – especially with young children. However, it’s also important to acknowledge the increasing benefits of new media in child development. Leapfrog – one of the front-runners in the field of children’s technology – published an article explaining how appropriate integration of technology in childhood not only sparks academic development, but also helps children to develop 21st century skills. 21st century skills are defined as “certain core competencies such as collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving that advocates believe schools need to teach to help students thrive in today’s world.” Leapfrog’s article outlines the 21st century and career skills that children learn through thoughtful use of learning apps and devices, including:
The above-mentioned skills are becoming increasingly important, especially in today’s educational climate. Preparing your students to become successful 21st century learners allows them to develop the set of skills necessary to succeed life after high school and college. Technology is not going away; as educators we must acknowledge and take advantage of the multitude of advantages it gives us both in and outside of the classroom.
With the holiday season in full swing, it’s important to take the time and investigate appropriate and thoughtful gifts for the tech-savvy children in your life. You might as well make the best of the situation; make sure the games that children are invested in are games that are invested in your children – and their development. The non-profit organization Common Sense Media is based on this idea of providing adults and children with the necessary education and resources needed for children in today’s media and technology-rich society. Their organization provides parent resources, teacher toolkits, and age-appropriate material for integrating media and technology into the lives of students of all ages. This organization proves especially helpful during the holiday season – the folks at Common Sense Media have divided today’s trending games and technology into age-appropriate lists to help you find the best gifts for the kids in your life. Their Recommendations for Learning list acts as a comprehensive guide of developmentally appropriate – and fun – gifts to get children for the holidays!
Click through to the ON for Learning Award Winners to for lists of the most productive tech gifts to get kids this holiday season.