I'm writing this during an INSET where the speaker has introduced her session on challenging More Able and Talented children by showing a photograph of four nursery age children who were playing on iPods and not communicating, thus illustrating her concerns about the use of technology by children. This angered me slightly; it was shown out of context with little information about the children's task, what they were doing immediately before or after.
It's started me thinking about the technology that The Boy uses, and why.
On a daily basis, The Boy can help unload the dishwasher, turn on the television, select channel 614, play puzzles on the iPad, take photos on his camera, turn on the washing machine and play on one of his preschool games on the laptop. Don't get me wrong here, we also do art and craft, jigsaws, book reading and general playing. However my point is, that The Boy uses a lot of technology, and with a father who's a software developer and a mother who's an ICT coordinator then it's difficult for him to avoid it.
It started when he was 20 months old and I would give him a bubble-popping app on the iPod; not for a distraction but to help him develop his hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. I would load the app for him and he'd play for just a few minutes, it was amazing to see the tracking in his vision. One day I nipped out to the kitchen to get a drink and came back in to discover him switching between the apps and playing a matching pairs game. I'd never shown him that, he'd worked it out for himself.
Children are innately curious, technology is an amazing tool for encouraging this.
We have made a conscious decision to provide The Boy with a range of technology so that we ignite within him the curiosity needed to investigate further technological innovations…
"The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don't really even notice it, so it's part of everyday life." – Bill Gates
This is true. The technology that our children will use in the future is inconceivable: who would have thought five years ago that I'd be carrying a high powered computer around in my handbag with tens of books on it, access to the Internet, a camera, 'board' games and films on it, let alone that I'd be able to access all of that within seconds of reaching for it.
Technology has its place and is a valuable tool as a platform for learning; it is not a demon to be criticised at teacher training days, and children using it is not something that should be frowned upon. Of course there are going to be those parents who use it as a babysitter or pacifier (and in some situations it's needed), but it's also an amazing and innovative device for developing so many skills.
So here's my question to you: what is your stance on technology in your children's lives?