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Generation Next

One of the greatest parts of my job is talking to parents and students about all the amazing, wonderful things that technology has to offer. Parents often enter my presentations expecting to learn about all the evils of technology and the perils of social networking; while there are certainly some challenges that need to be addressed, technology is changing—and will continue to change our lives. With two, very young children, I can’t wait to see what’s next when it comes to kids and technology.

Today, my 25-month-old daughter was able to trace all of her letters from an iPad app that she uses voluntarily. It’s one a friend told me about, and she absolutely loves it. An animated ball shows her where she needs to draw a line next, and every letter she writes there’s a fun animation that celebrates her success. As the letters come up on the screen, she’s able to trace it, announce what letter it is, and what sound it makes. While we have been reading to her since she was born, this letter recognition and association comes from another app that she loves and uses all the time. I believe very much that our kids are now born “wired”, with the capacity to use these tools without much instruction—and I think it’s awesome, when used correctly. With these amazing educational apps, kids are having a blast learning, at their own pace, and in a fresh, animated way.

Many schools across the country are honing in on this, realizing that this young generation of kids are proficient when it comes to technology. School districts are spending millions of dollars to roll out programs that provide tablets or laptops for all its students. While there have been some snags at various school districts with these programs, I’ve seen it be tremendously successful as well. Kids are excited that education is being brought to them on their level, and teachers are finding brand new ways to work with their students, teaching them in ways they never were able to before. One school in particular did an entire ½ year project on a social networking site, and it was such a success that other schools in their district are looking to do the same. Like all technology, as long as it’s done with reasonable parameters and security measures in place (while also obeying certain rules like age limits on social networking sites), teaching with technology is going to revolutionize education as we know it.

A recent study by McAfee shows that kids are using technology for up to 6 hours a day. 6 hours! If we can find a way to weave educational components into this tremendous technology use—I’m all for it. Technology is changing the way we all do things, and can be exceptionally beneficial when it comes to educating our children as well. I’m thrilled about these toddler apps I’m finding for my daughter, which she’s super excited about and make learning fun for her—and me! The possibilities when it comes to educating our kids (and ourselves) with the amazing technologies that continue to unfold before our eyes are endless; with reasonable limitations and parental involvement, the sky is the limit.

Former Director of Internet Safety for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and Intelligence Analyst for the Massachusetts State Police, Katie LeClerc Greer travels the country educating students, parents, administrators and law enforcement officers about technology and digital responsibility/safety. Katie serves as a media and industry expert and advisor for various private and government agencies around the country. You can learn more about Katie at: www.klgreer.com

 

 

Categories: Digital Citizenship, Educational Issues

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