How can we change our children’s obsession with Handheld devices? Should they be banned for children under the age of 12? Many parents, teachers and governments as stakeholders in the learning of children think there should be greater control of their usage in the home and at school. Whilst many teachers recognise the benefits of Handheld Devices there are also the drawbacks.
Our children are digital natives whilst many parents and teachers are digital immigrants. This younger generation often socialises, hangs out and communicates online rather than in person. Often this means that some young people are unable to concentrate or socialise properly. Some teachers see a complete lack of motivation among their students; who are used to getting an instant response making it really hard to focus on anything that isn’t exciting or fast paced. For some children when they commence school it is the first time they have been told what they can and can’t do, as opposed to simply being left to their own devices and doing what they like. More times than not their response is to be aggressive and disrupt the learning of others, as many of their games give them the idea that violence is the answer to every problem.
Chris Rowan, Pediatric occupational therapist, biologist, speaker, and author suggests 10 reasons why Handheld Devices should be banned. Research has shown it can delay learning development, increase obesity, sleep deprivation, mental illness, aggression, contribute to attention deficit, addiction to technology, radiation emission and children raised with technology as no longer sustainable (Rowan 2012).
On the flip side, Digital learning technologies help students to learn more efficiently, with mastery, enables engagement and motivation, anytime, anywhere. So how do we ensure that the use of Handheld devices benefits our children rather than make them passive learners with no desire to go outside the box?
As Albert Einstein said ‘to raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires imagination and makes real advance in science. As a teacher I see the need for parents to be more vigilant in the supervision of their children’s uses of digital technologies. As a parent, it is challenging in our fast-paced society to balance a slower life with back to simple basics. Find a few minutes each day to spend with your children reading is can invaluable and an investment in their future. Reading or telling stories with your children encourages them to come up with ideas to and to be part of the creative and imaginative process. Downtime from Handheld devices enables children to entertain themselves effectively because it encourages them to think. Some parents spend a fortune on Private Tuition, which is really a person on a one to one basis with your child reading and encouraging lateral thinking.
Whilst Digital technologies and toys are cold like objects that give a fast connection to the outside world, but parents still need to be more actively involved in the children’s education which begins in the home.