A recent study conducted by Latitude Research, featured on Read Write Web, looks at what kids want from technology. The results are surprising and somewhat counter-intuitive, with the recent media reports about the effects of excessive screen time and the debate over gaming as an effective learning method. The researchers found that imaginative creation, connectivity, and artistic design were important, valued, and desired when children described their ideal interactions with technology.
I have a confession. We’re a wired family. We’re three laptops on the couch. Sometimes at the kitchen table. We email each other when we’re in different rooms. We all gather round and watch YouTube videos. Sometimes they’re of cats playing soccer. Sometimes they’re of old British children’s programs (or Pee Wee’s Playhouse, in my case) that we don’t want our daughter to miss by virtue of being born in 2002. Sometimes they’re Twisted Sister videos (her current favourite).
But mostly, we’re trying to take a balanced approach to our daughters exposure to media. All media. We lead a relatively active lifestyle, even having given up our car over a year ago. We bike, we play baseball, we swim, we hike. We rarely watch TV. We’re rabid board game enthusiasts, and even host our own Tofurkey Cup championship at Thanksgiving. But we do believe that incorporating technology into our child’s life serves a few very crucial purposes:
Of course, there are others. She recently collaborated on a Voicethread for one of her favourite stories with 3 other friends. And she handed in a project, a PowerPoint presentation on Costa Rica, on her own memory stick.
And yet, upon finishing Grade 2, the afore-mentioned Nana from Saskatchewan sent her a copy of Superfudge. A print copy. She devoured it in 3 days.
Balance is important. But if creation and design are key motivators for kids using technology, as the Latitude study claims, then it’s our job as parents to provide the tools to make it happen. Tools that will prepare our daughter to survive and thrive in an interconnected world.
We’ve been encouraged by the recent debate, and the slow, small steps that seem to be happening to make our education system reflect the innovation that exists outside the classroom.
And yes, we will have a lemonade stand outside our house this weekend. And then we’ll all go on Canada Helps to figure out where to donate the proceeds. Because we can.