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Early tech exposure: Good or bad idea?

February 21, 2012
Times Leader
By KAYLA VAN DYNE, Times Leader Staff Writer

In 2011, Steve Jobs, inventor of the Mac computer and one of the leaders in the technology era, died, leaving behind not only a legacy but massive shoes to fill as well. Over the years, Jobs created much of the technology of today such as iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers. With him gone, one has to wonder who will create the next piece of technology. In the last 50 years or more, technology has changed drastically from only having house phones to having cell phones to now being able to access the Internet from whereever. As most have adjusted to the changing technology, and others are baffled by the affects and abilities of these small machines, there is one generation that is not — children. Technology is growing faster then children do. They are exposed to technology at a very early from their parents having the latest gadgets, to moving through everyday life, but mostly because they have not lived without technology, having never experienced a day without cell phones, computers, or video games. Which leads to one question with multiple parts, are kids better prepared for the future? What are the pros and cons to these advancements in technology? There are many blogs, articles and studies some parents and educators argue these pros and cons as well as . Schools are teaching children to use computers in the classroom, using programs like Study Island that is accessible from home and filtered. This is one example schools are using to intergrate technology into their lesson plans; another way is having weekly or daily computer classes. “I taught my daughter how to use my desktop and laptop, and her preschool class has computer classes every Friday,” said Mike Hughes, a father to a 4-1/2 year-old. “She was able to hit the ground running when her preschool class began working with computers. “The games are educational and fun and it’s a break from drilling letters or practicing counting.” While technology is expanding their education with the use of computers and Internet, allowing teachers to make stronger lesson plans to integrate other cultures and bring foreign lands alive, rather then watching a documentary of a man with a monotone voice, is this preparing them for later on in life? “[She] caught on quick. It helps her to recongize words,” Hughes said. “The sooner they start getting used to it, the better,” said Hughes, who also commented that he wants her to use the computer as “a tool, not the tool.” Then, there are the pieces of technology that have made life easier, for most at least, such as cell phones, for example. These tiny little pieces that have downsized in the last 20 or more years since their first creation are great for emergencies. “I have used my phone to calm my crying toddler with a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ cartoon while we wait for Daddy at the grocery store,” said Michelle Ringer, a mother of three, who has had a Smartphone for more than two years and uses it daily. Most days, though, these little glowing, beeping, chirping pieces of plastic are not used for that, but instead a generation of teens, young adults and sometimes parents, as well, walk with their heads down, while texting or driving — which is dangerous — and let the world pass them by as they socialize through smilely faces and LOL. The younger generation, children age 8 and under, are and can use these cell phones, iPods, and computers better then most adults. “My husband works for Verizon Wireless so we are always up-to-date on the new phone technology in our house. He recently brought home an iPad to test for work,” said Ringer. “Personally, I was more comfortable using our motorola XOOM so I remember the shock I had when I realized my 2 year old was able to easily switch between the two ... I had trouble just figuring out how to turn it on and my children not only could turn it on but navigate the device to exactly what they wanted.” While technology is not going anywhere, anytime soon, and will continue to advance far beyond our wildest dreams, the possibilities seem endless judging from has been created so far. It is really up to the parents how much of this technology will be in there life. “We use our Smartphones daily, it can range from looking up ideas for crafts to pulling up pictures of what an aardvarks look like to finding a recipe for dinner to having an improv dance party in our kitchen while listening to Pandora. At the end of the day, nothing takes the place of a mom and dad reading a book to their children curled up in their pjs,” said Ringer. “But I do believe this is based on each child and the level of maturity they are at ... the information that can be accessed is limitless and can be terrifying to a kid... [It’s] very important for parents to be active in what happens on and off the phone computers video games etc. ...”

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EXPOSING?KIDS early to technology can give them a head start on their impending educational experience.



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