By: Natasha Archary
There’s no escaping it and perhaps embracing technology is the painless way to go. With research on the matter at varied ends of the spectrum, we’re no closer to reaching consensus on whether technology puts your child at an advantage or disadvantage.
The American Academy of Pediatrics observes that 96.6% of young children in the US spend between five and ten hours a day in front of a screen. A habit which many clinical psychologists believe to be detrimental to physical wellbeing and linked to behaviour disorders and trouble concentrating.
We’re fast becoming a species dependent on technology however, always plugged in with obsessive streaming and online access everywhere we go, is it a surprise that we’re passing on these ticks to our children?
In a world of digitisation, how does technology affect your child’s development? Some may argue that children who consume online content miss the opportunity to be physically active. If one were to consider that the average child spends a good chunk of their school day involved in physical activity, this argument may just be null and void.
The average adult is expected to fit in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, how active do we expect children to be a day? Athletics classes, after school sports activities, running around the playground during lunch all equate to physical activity.
Legitimate concerns over how the use of smart devices affect a child’s development have been raised in recent years. The truth is the tech has not been around long enough to substantiate these concerns. Some parents are totally against it, with schools modelling early childhood development on sensory activities and fundamental memory focused learning. There are, however, some parents who swear that their children are online genuises.
No two children reach milestones at the same time, likewise children do not all learn and development the same. A child who is visually stronger, for example, may develop motor skills faster using a tablet than a child who prefers audio stimulation.
While parents are caught in the trap that the South African education department and schools set: the textbook way of approaching learning and education, a Danish school may have changed the frontier for education throughout the world.
A small Coppenhagen suburb dropped the typical classroom type approach to education and adopted an open space for children to determine how best they learn. Cellphones are permitted, younger children are given a tablet and older learners can come and go as they please as long as they stay in touch with their teachers via text.
Internationally recognised for the innovative thinking, Hellerup School pioneered the change in efforts to make classrooms more like the real world. Instead of viewing technology as a cancerous cell, the school and community integrated tech into the schooling principles with incredible results.
Children develop at their own pace, are encouraged to think according to their strengths, with each idea encouraged and supported. This enables a child to leave with strong soft skills, project managing capabilities and, of course, knowledgeable on all the apps and social platforms that seem to run the world.
South Africa has a long way to go to reach Coppenhagen’s free approach to learning styles and perhaps this is affecting our children’s development. We’re against intergrating technology because we fear the change.
Technology is not going anywhere, the sooner we accept this fact and learn more about the apps our children are using, the sooner we become a paperless society.