Today’s society relies on technology in order to run smoothly. Computers, tablets, and smart phones are a huge part of many children’s everyday lives. They aren’t just using them at home; they’re also a huge part of many educational programs. Finding a balance between the need to use technology as part of everyday life and the potential it has to impact those who use it is critical for both parents and educators.
Is Technology Addiction Real?
According to the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which was released in 2013, technology addiction has not yet been identified as a mental disorder. Many parents, however, would beg to differ. They watch their children bury themselves in their phones, spend hours staring at the television as they play video games, and otherwise distance themselves from people in favor of enjoying technology. Keeping kids away from technology and encouraging them to do other things is a constant struggle! It’s also true that excessive technology use can cause a number of problems:
- Exacerbating symptoms of depression, ADHD, and other common psychological struggles
- An increase in behavioral problems associated with excessive screen time
- Difficulty focusing, particularly with regards to actively focusing on individuals
The Benefits of Technology
It’s clear that brains of children who regularly use technology are adapting differently than the brains of those who didn’t grow up with it. Those adaptations, however, aren’t necessarily a bad thing. The way people remember information is changing: they don’t have to remember specific dates and times when they can simply pick up a device and look it up. The way they function is changing: attention span is dropping, but at the same time, people are developing faster decision-making skills and increasing their ability to absorb and scan information at a rapid rate.
Since technology clearly isn’t going anywhere any time soon, it’s important to understand the benefits of technology in the classroom, including the way it will shape the developing mind of the children who use it every day.
- Children have increased access, not only to information, but to collaborative opportunities with other students across the globe.
- Education has become more personalized, with teachers able to customize learning to each child’s individual skill level and capability.
- Students are becoming better prepared for the careers they will face in the future, which will almost certainly require them to use technological tools.
- Students better retain information that has been presented to them in ways that they consider interesting and fun.
Parents and schools must find the line between technology and the potential for addiction. While there are certainly downsides to excessive technology use, using it as an educational tool within the classroom setting has a number of benefits that teachers can’t afford to ignore. The trick, therefore, is finding balance.
Using technology alongside old-school methods allows for a wider range of learning methods to be embraced, therefore providing each student with more opportunities for learning.
Offering hands-on activities outside the computer increases learning, especially when children are allowed to work on projects that incorporate both technology and non-technological methods.
Providing opportunities for students to use technology that they’ll see in the workplace increases their job skills and makes it easier for them to gain employment in their future fields when the day comes.
Proper Technology Use at Home
When you’re faced with an increasing amount of technology use at school, it can be even more difficult to control technology use at home. Setting appropriate limits, however, will allow you to assist your child in learning appropriate technology use.
Set clear boundaries. This might include having dinner at the table as a family without devices or turning off all technology past a certain time at night. Keeping computers and other devices out of the bedroom is also a great way to control what your children are able to do.
Prioritize schoolwork. If one of your technology boundaries includes allowing only a certain amount of technology use at home, make sure that schoolwork is the priority, not video games or cell phone time.
Model appropriate usage. It’s hard to fuss at your child for having their nose buried in their phone every minute when you’re scrolling through your email or checking your social media accounts while they’re telling you about their day. Make a habit of modeling appropriate technology use, including adhering to the same boundaries you want you children to follow.
At The Tenney School, we endeavor to balance the need for technology in the classroom with the needs of parents and students. Contact us today to learn more about a school where your child can learn more about the technology they’ll use after graduation while still building their personal and educational skills in other ways.