As a teacher, I definitely see the benefits of technology and the many ways it can be used to enhance learning in the classroom. But our ever growing obsession and fascination with technology has reached the point where, I believe, it can be harmful to kids.
It is no doubt tempting to treat your children to luxuries that you may not have had access to or may not have been able to afford when you were younger. But these days, it seems as if kids have much more technology than they know how to make use of, let alone need. Almost every student I teach has either a phone or a tablet. When I ask my younger students what they do with their technology, the only answer I get is “play games”.
A couple of parents I talked to said that technology is the way they get their kids to occupy themselves because it keeps them from misbehaving. When their kids are misbehaving and acting up in public spaces like doctors’ offices, these parents said that handing them their phone and letting their kids play games is a way to distract and occupy them.
While the short term benefits of managing your children’s behaviour may seem great, the repercussions cannot be ignored. Some of the students I teach have terrible, terrible penmanship. One particular student, who was six years old when I started working with him, couldn’t even hold a pencil properly. When he attempted to write his name, the letters were squiggly and zigzagged because his hand was so shaky. He was so accustomed to using his fingertips to swipe and tap, that he had difficulty grasping a pencil.
Be sure to think about your child’s age, fine motor skills and their development, before handing them a phone, tablet or computer. Don’t underestimate the power of a pencil and paper, or crayons or markers or paint brushes for that matter. Give your kids an instrument. Get them working in the kitchen with you. There are plenty of ways to occupy your children, while also getting their creative juices flowing.
And for those times when you do wish to incorporate technology to promote learning in your kids, here are a couple apps that I would recommend you use:
Sight Words List – Learn to Read Flash Cards & Games helps your child learn the Dolce words, which are common words that your child will encounter while reading stories. The app also lets you customize your own flash cards.
TeachMe: Kindergarten helps your child with sight words, as well as writing, spelling and basic math skills.
If your child is just starting to read, MeeGenius – Read Along Library of Children’s Books is a great read along app that you can use with your child. There are also Disney and Dr. Seuss read long books available on the app store.