Most of my early teenage technology related memories involve huge computers, dial up internet and watching movies on VHS. I remember having to get off the web (remember when we called it that?) so that someone else could use the phone. I remember actually printing out directions from AA route planner before a long drive to somewhere new. I remember actual lessons at school on ‘How to use Google’.
I remember winding up my disposable camera and I remember the excitement of getting those prints back from being developed. I remember the original Polaroid cameras, not these new Instax things, and I remember thinking how fancy they were. I remember the days before WiFi and Bluetooth, back when the most exciting thing on your phone was Snake, and your battery lasted a week. I also remember when ‘text speak’ became a thing, because you couldn’t risk using up too many characters and paying an extra 10p for another text.
I remember a time before social media, when all we had was MSN messenger and it was all sending nudges and writing song lyrics in our names. I remember original Facebook profiles, and worse than that – I remember MySpace and Bebo!
How times have changed, and how quickly technology seems to develop. I was pretty shocked when I found out my parents were around before the BBC broadcast in colour (in 1966 according to Google – those lessons paid off), and I’m sure one day Dilan will be absolutely horrified to know that I was born before the world wide web was even a thing (which happened in 1991 if you’re wondering).
Since I was a teen there have been such big changes in the way we find and use information, and huge advances in technology of all kinds. Instead of books, we read kindles. Instead of sitting at a desk with a huge PCs we use laptops and tablets on our sofas. Instead of playing Snake, we use our phones for virtually anything, thanks to the fact that we can remain permanently connected to the internet via wifi and 3G. Instead of being limited to 30 pictures and having no idea how they’ve turned out, we are able to take hundreds of shots digitally and share them instantly with the world via social media. It’s really pretty mind blowing.
Thinking about how I learnt at school versus how Dilan might be taught conjures up some stark contrasts. Instead of an IT suite filled with heavy PCs, Dil will probably have access to tablets at school. Instead of experiencing the joys of an overhead projector (now I’m feeling old..) he will probably make use of all kinds of new technology, watching footage from YouTube or experiencing augmented reality to really experience something different. Instead of learning woodwork and sewing, he may have a module on 3D printing or graphic design. All these things will be commonplace in schools because the way we are finding and sharing information, and the way we are learning is changing every day.
Technology and Children
As a parent it’s really difficult to know how best to handle technology and children. I know that lots of people believe in limited screen time, and lots would be horrified to know that my three year old can unlock our iPad, open the YouTube app and access his favourite videos. However, as we move further into a world that heavily features technology of all kinds, should we be holding them back from experiencing this? With an increase in things like wearable technology, virtual reality and e-learning are we doing them a disservice by not letting them explore these things? Do we need to accept that these things are very quickly becoming a part of every day life, and will be used by our children at some point whether we are on board or not?
At 3 Dil does enjoy a little YouTube, and as mind numbing as some of it is he has definitely learnt loads. It has helped him with his alphabet, it has helped improve his vocabulary and it even helps us convince him to brush his teeth when he’s not so keen (thanks Blippi!). He can also take pictures on my iPhone, scroll through my photo albums, use FaceTime to call people and he can even send a few emojis. He is picking up information so fast at his age, absorbing it all like a little sponge, and it’s actually quite incredible for him to have such a wealth of information at his fingertips.
He’s so interested in animals, what they eat and where they live, so it’s lovely to be able to spend time together searching the iPad for pictures, videos and more information about his favourites. What better after a day of running around and climbing trees than to come home and learn more about the interesting plants you discovered along your way by having a look online?
Moderation is Key
Of course there are drawbacks, like there are to anything, and moderation is definitely key when considering technology use in young children, but in 2017 is it time to accept that learning to use an iPad is almost as commonplace as learning to hold a pen? That the advances in technology we are seeing today are paving the way for how future generations will learn, communicate, grow, live? That holding them back and shielding them from these new things will put them at a disadvantage when it comes to joining the rest of the world?
We can share experiences, cultures, thoughts and new findings across the world in an instant, and this has to have an effect on the way we learn. Just as it’s hard to imagine life before the calculator (remember the abacus?!) it will soon be impossible to imagine life before technology. And with some of the amazing things we are now able to do, I’m not sure I want to.
GP Strategies have just launched #evolutionoflearning – a new campaign focused on the way technology has impacted the learning process, check out the video below.
*This is a collaborative post*