In her latest book, Reading Eggs guest author Yvette Adams says kids need their parents to understand the technology they are using right now and to embrace the technology themselves.
For the first time in history, our children know more than us about something: technology! Just stop and think about that for a moment. It’s a crazy phenomenon.
These days, it is not uncommon for babies and toddlers to be passed phones and tablets just as early as they are passed their first toys. Whilst the righteous amongst us may swear they would never lower their standards to this sort of carry on, the fact is devices are being dished out to children in the doctor’s waiting room, in the supermarket queue, on a long drive and in the restaurant by desperate parents who are looking for a bit of light reprieve.
Besides, your child is clamoring to get their hands on your mobile phone or tablet. After all, from a very young age, they love emulating absolutely anything you do – pushing a trolley, mowing the lawn, gardening, playing ‘kitchens’, and, now, playing on your phone, tablet or computer too.
You frequently hear stories from parents of how they left a tablet or smartphone lying around and came back to find their toddler or young child playing games, changing their desktop image or ring tone, or purchasing something on eBay without ever having been shown how to do so!
So why is this? Devices, operating systems, apps and programs released these days often claim to be ‘responsive’, ‘intuitive’ and getting simpler, at least in theory, for us all to operate.
But the learning curve for adults who are, for example, entrenched in a PC world and try and cross the great divide to Mac or who go from Microsoft Windows 2003 to Windows 8 is steep and can be frustrating, to say the least.
Kids, however, come at technology with a clean slate and no preconceived idea about what it should or shouldn’t do. They have time to explore and play, and a burning desire to master the device, so they get stuck in and, with this full focus and level of commitment, work things out in record time. Even actions that a parent technically ‘knows how to do’ on a device, app, system or program, kids will often find a ‘better’, more efficient way of doing after just a short time of playing with a device that the parent has not discovered in years of repetitive use.
Parents, on the other hand, tend to worry they will ‘break it’ or that they will look ‘silly’ if they can’t do it (so they won’t always try, and they won’t always ask for help). In fairness, they probably also don’t have the time to simply ‘have a play’ which is, in effect, what kids do best.
When kids get their hands on a device, they will click around, try a few things and generally get it. If they don’t, they’ll keep trying until they do. In short, they relish a challenge.
On this note, you could do far worse than asking your kids to teach you whatever it is you would like to know how to do on technology, and it probably goes without saying that your child will know, work it out, or, most definitely, gain great pleasure in teaching you. Consider it quality family time, and you’ll also find it’s a whole lot more fun than reading the user manual!
I’m a big believer that we should be giving kids more of a look in when it comes to teaching us about technology.
The fact of the matter is, technology has turned every aspect of our lives on its head. Love it or hate it, technology is here to stay and life is not the same as it once was.
I believe our generation of parents has a great responsibility when it comes to guiding our children into the digital age, with a strong memory of life before technology. The task is an onerous one. If we do a good job, the world will be their oyster. If we choose to ignore technology, and tell our kids they can’t go on social networks, and if we don’t make time to take an active interest in what our kids are doing online, the ramifications could be disastrous.
Lately I’ve been on a quest of mobilising an army of technophobic parents, carers, grandparents, teachers and other influencers of children because the short of it is, the kids need us.
You see, at the moment, we expect the education system and the government to do something about it, but the fact is kids desperately need their parents to understand the technology they are using right now and to embrace the technology themselves.
I’m trying to turn all the negative conversations about technology, into conversations about the positive impacts technology can have on your life. Focusing on the fear, namely cyber-bullying and cyber-safety is not productive. It is a very real risk, however if you and your child have knowledge and education around how to use technology safely and confidently, the risks are significantly reduced.
Technology can save time, save money, help us be more creative, fitter & healthier, more environmentally conscious, the list goes on.
So are you going to leave them to it? Or do what you can to step up, skill up and become a responsible tech savvy parent? I hope you choose the latter.
Yvette Adams is the author of No Kidding – Why Our Kids Know More About Technology Than Us & What We Can Do About It available at www.nokidding.com.au and at all good stores. A multi-award winning business woman, and mother of two, she is passionate about providing people with digital skills, digital training and digital knowledge.