A few weeks ago I wrote a post about the importance of technology breaks to teach kids how to be still. Quiet self-reflection is going to be a skill not many children have in our technology-obsessed culture. But the integration of technology into children’s everyday lives isn’t all negative. In fact, it’s having some interesting side effects.
A study released last month from Latitude Research says that children view technology inherently differently than their adult counterparts. They see it as something fundamentally human, easily assimilated into everyday life – as opposed to adults, who view it as separate from humanness. Kids are viewing technology as “moving from acts of knowledge transmission toward acts of exploration, collaboration, and creation.”
The study specifically focused on the children’s reactions to having robots as part of everyday life, and showed how willing they are to integrate them into their social circles. The robots used in the study became natural members of their peer groups, and actually helped them to fit in. The children also felt more confident when working on class assignments with the help of robots.
The ease with which children are embracing technology is not a surprise to me, given how effortlessly my son has embraced things like our iPad for learning as well as entertainment. Already he is being imbued with a sense of knowledge at his fingertips, of learning as a natural part of everyday life. I get a sense of nostalgic envy when I realize he’ll never know the joys and pains of cassette tapes or the Dewey Decimal System, but if technology is embedding learning as part of his essential human experience, I’m all for it.
Ultimately, the study concludes that new technologies are creating the possibility of closing the gap between learning and play. Kids are quick to see the two as overlapping activities, even as we pry them apart through compartmentalizing their lives to ridiculous degrees. I want to see Miles continue to associate the two together, and make learning (and playing) a part of his life for the long haul.
How do your children use technology? Do you think they see it as a fundamental part of being human? Are you okay with that?
Caleb Gardner is an amateur father and husband who writes at The Exceptional Man and dabbles in photography, design, and music. When listening to the cacophony of modern-day America, Caleb prefers a side of Scotch. He calls Chicago home, and in winter, less-nice things.