Interactive Technology May Be a Double-Edge Sword for Children
Today we see that technology has infiltrated the lives of children as young as infants. A recent survey on tablets and toddlers shows the number of kids using touchscreens has doubled in the past two years — almost 40 percent of babies under two and nearly 75 percent of kids under eight are using them.
Although technology serves many beneficial purposes, it brings with it some possible disadvantages for children of all ages.
The dangers of the technology dagger
New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics state children should not be allowed more than two hours of screen time a day and that children under two should not spend any time in front of a screen.
Research has suggested that young people are facing a “healthcare time bomb”. Musculoskeletal health-related issues have been linked to the use of computers, video games, iPads/tablets and smartphones. The research showed that nearly 3/4 of elementary school children and 2/3 of secondary school children have reported back or neck pain within the last year. When toddlers are using touchscreens, they are not strengthening the muscles necessary for writing.
Therapists indicate that there are plenty of worthwhile educational apps for children, but suggest limiting touchscreen use to no more than 15 minutes at a time.
The XO Tablet
Vivitar and One Laptop Per Child recently introduced a product that I would recommend for kids preschool through middle school called the XO Tablet. It is an Android-powered learning tablet that possesses many features available across a broad range of subjects and skill levels. The child is able to learn other languages at an introductory level. There are also games and ebooks incorporated into the tablet.
In addition, there is a “Dreams” section that brings the different professions of the workforce right to children for them to be exposed to the different aspects of that job. A great thing about the tablet is that it provides parents with a tool called “Journal” that gathers information as to how their children are spending their time on the XO and where their strengths lie. This provides a great starting point for conversations about their child’s interests and passions in life.
The Leap Motion Controller
This new 3-D motion control technology opens doors to interactive learning. Teachers can benefit from this product by getting all children involved and it is an affordable way to provide enrichment at home this school year. Kids are able to control their computers with the use of their hands and fingers for learning and exploration. It comes with Airspace, which is an app store with access to educational apps of all kinds for all ages across a variety of subjects.
Some examples include:
- “Curious Kids” for early education in exploring animal sounds, practicing counting and playing the piano.
- “TVOKids Caterpillar Count” for learning to count by guiding a caterpillar around the screen with their finger to collect numbers in sequential order.
- For geography, there is Google Earth for discovering cities, mountains, rainforests and oceans on Earth along with new sights on the moon and other planets.
- Science has a virtual dissection where kids can learn how the human body works by pulling apart and putting back together different portions of the body.
- Furthermore, kids can learn music through air drumming, harp plucking and piano playing.
Interactive technology serves many useful purposes for the future of education — when used in moderation appropriately.
- Student learning can take place through authentic, challenging tasks at a child’s own pace and level and strengthen any weak areas to make them more rounded out learners.
- It creates a balance between teacher-centered and student-centered learning to give the child some ownership of their learning.
- Helps to spark curiosity, maintain interest and strengthen motivation for learning.
- Creates a climate that supports learning both in the classroom and beyond the school setting into the homes.
For more information on empowering your child and assisting in their maturation, decision-making, overall development and becoming super healthy: Check out Dr. Doug’s official website: www.douglashaddad.com.
Douglas Haddad is a public school teacher, nutritionist and the author of parenting/child guidance book Save Your Kids…Now! The Revolutionary Guide To Helping Youth Conquer Today’s Challenges and co-author of Top Ten Tips For Tip Top Shape: Super Health Programs For All Professional Fields..
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2014 Magazine