If human interaction does not directly offend you, you can find a range of options within what can only be described as a technological revolution.
Children as young as nine are Snapchatting beside me on the bus. At the same time, a stray Baby Boomer declares until he is blue in the face that he will have his flip phone and dial-up internet until the day he dies.
We are living in a weird time. With this rapid development of technology, it seems we are always asking ourselves, “What of the poor, little children?”
Kids are, and it seems always will be, the guinea pigs of society’s more ambitious ideas and inventions. Technology is an interesting field. Adults usually have an established idea of the long-term effects of certain foods, or the pros and cons of corporate toy stores. But technology is a field new to parents, and educators.
While technology advances faster each decade than any other industry, adults themselves are grappling with what it means for their children to be so attuned to the technology evolving at their fingertips. They must also cope with the fact that their children may be more attuned with their tech toys than even their parents and teachers.
What is fascinating about technology and children is the seemingly endless vortex of myths surrounding the potential dangers – from a social to mental scale – technology poses to young children, particularly towards their experience of their childhood.
This inspired the study Seven Myths about Young Children and Technology, which tries to debunk the myths surrounding this phenomenon and clarify a balance of technology in childhood. One of its most enticing arguments is around the idea of technology hindering social interaction:
“With the right support, digital media can open up avenues of communication over time and distance and provide new and intriguing possibilities for the development of young children’s communicative skills. This suggests that, used thoughtfully, technology can enhance rather than hinder social interaction.”
This observation points to a fundamental understanding of the impact of technology on childhood. For the more traditional points of view, childhood is a time where kids should be outside and playing with their friends and enjoying “real” life. Social interaction is essential, as anyone with a basic understanding of psychology knows, for a child to remain well-adjusted and developmentally healthy.
Kids are, and it seems always will be, the guinea pigs of society’s more ambitious ideas and inventions.
What this study considers is that technology may be a tool rather than a dominating force over children’s lives. Returning to the reality of technology development, most adults are still adapting to new changes and the fear over technology’s impact on childhood. This could even be a projection of adults’ own insecurities and anxieties of technology’s overall impact on their own lives.
It must be acknowledged that technology is not an all-powerful entity in our lives. It is a tool developed for the same purpose as any other tool, even a tool as seemingly primitive as fire. It’s purpose is to advance and ease human life. What is missing from the narrative around technology affecting childhood is the idea of balance—a concept most parents, the study claims, use quite regularly.
Technology is a sign of how society grows and adapts to changing times and environments. Children’s interaction with technology is more a symptom of adaptation than the impending doom of childhood. It may be more accurate to assume that technology isn’t going to obstruct or compromise childhood; instead, it will perhaps shape a different childhood that we will also need to adapt to seeing and processing as parents, educators, and members of a shared society.
Like I said, it is a weird time – but a good kind of weird.
By Meagan Gove
Please note that opinions expressed are the author’s own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and values of The Blank Page.