Fighting The “Tech As A Toy” Mindset – Summer Google Basics For Kids Series
Before we begin our Summer Google Basics For Kids Series, I thought I would be remiss if I did not begin with a clear sense of purpose. Why should we begin exposing kids to technology so young and what specifically should we teach them to build a solid foundation for digital independence? First, let’s begin with the “WHY?”.
As an Edtech Teacher, I am all about the positive aspects of integrating solid curricular based technology into our classrooms, tech that cultivates creativity, critical thinking and healthy communication. However, like any other modern day convenience, there are negatives to consider if student devices are not managed by a conscientious adult. So many of our elementary students begin their tech journey from infancy, grabbing their parents’ phones and somehow they instinctually know exactly how to open the most annoying gaming apps, much to the dismay of their parents. Does this scene sound familiar? When left to their own choice, kids will choose to gamify any device.
This phenomenon is amazing to me as I watch my own family reach for their tech of choice. We struggle to find a healthy balance to these events since we know that too much tech/gaming/screentime has proven to be detrimental to our kids’ health: Promoting a sedentary, self-indulgent lifestyle, instant gratification and the possibilities of allowing dangers into our own homes via the internet. Trust me I have battled this monster for many years with my own son, now an adult and known as the perpetual “Gamer” in our family. However, I have to admit that his mechanical engineering job he has now is probably a direct result of much of his screentime.
You know the kids that have such an affinity for video games that they are absolutely unaware of their surroundings, totally absorbed and addicted to gaming. I see many kids getting their devices out whenever they have a chance while their glowing screen draws others around them in like a moth to a light bulb! When this situation is addressed, many kids can get indignant with the mere suggestion that their gaming can be annoying to others around them. So here is where we have finally come to our answer to ~ “Why should we teach kids to use tech at an early age?” Parents and teachers alike are dealing with this battle for attention. Our kids need us to bring this distraction into perspective, placing boundaries and “Social Norms” to digital behaviors until they can be mature enough to find a healthy balance for themselves. I believe that our kids NEED to experience the purposeful use of tech at an early age. To see tech as a valuable learning TOOL, NOT JUST A TOY! I have seen over and over again that if kids only see tech as a toy, they have trouble reversing this mindset and it takes time to cultivate a “Tech As A Tool” mindset.
Here are two awesome professional resources that I refer to for perspective.
The Modern Parent.net – by Martine Oglethorpe
Martine is the author of “Parenting in a Digital World” and has many great resources on her site.
Common Sense Media Parent Concerns Mission ~ “Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.”
In my opinion, the key is to at least aim for a healthy balance of tech and face-to-face, hands-on interaction. To set up boundaries at home for phones, tablets, computers and gaming devices, you can use the Net Nanny Family Device Contract. You can have a copy of the Net Nanny® Family Digital Contract sent to your email address, as well as receive free tips and resources for parenting in the digital age.
Net Nanny Promo Vimeo Video-
We know, deep down that our kids are modeling our own behavior to an extent, even though most of us use devices out of necessity for our jobs and other responsibilities. Nonetheless, limits are necessary to set the stage for responsible use and respect for how powerful Educational technology can be when leveraged correctly. I propose that we get kids off of “Gaming” by showing them how to use devices as incredibly powerful learning tools in our classrooms.
Remedy- Teach Tech as a Tool, NOT a Toy in School
We have such a small window of opportunity to impact our students’ view of how they should use their tech powers for good and not EVIL! (Insert creepy villain voice here!) Dear teachers, so many influencers, most of them outside of education tend to chastise technology integration as a way to numb our kids to healthy social interactions. Just like anything else, their needs to be a healthy balance. As elementary educators, we need to empower our kids to complete tasks that are developmentally appropriate using purposeful use of hands-on experiences and technology.
Communicating online is an art in itself. Here are two resources that I created to teach my kids to get started collaborating and sharing their work.
WHAT Should We Begin With?
As referenced in my previous post, Summer Google Basic Series, I have found that kids new to Google/Chromebooks need us to give them tech experiences in three basic categories of skills:
1. Device & Keyboard Awareness (Notice I did not say Typing/Keyboarding Speed)
2. Digital Citizenship
3. Google Tools
My next post will begin addressing and providing ready-made teaching resources to teach kids- Keyboard Awareness to kick off our Summer Basics Series.
Purchase Your Set of Slides (Coming Soon!)
At the end of this series, I will offer you my complete set of Keyboard Awareness/Basic Keyboarding, Digital Citizenship & Google Tools (Still in Progress) to teach your kids how to build digital independence. My Slides break procedures down into bite-sized pieces, offering you kid-friendly language and all the links and images you see throughout this series so that you may easily use my Slides in class.
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