The Touch-Screen Generation Essay
The author of the article uses a three-way approach to understanding the way technology is influencing the lives of the people. The first one is an app development and creation; the second is the parental views on the use of apps by children, and the last is the toddlers' perspective on the story as apps can be used for various purposes.
The proliferation of technology apps in the recent past signifies that today's children have more access to technological tools than the previous generations. Unlike during the TV era where only a few people enjoyed the privilege of having a television set in their houses, today more people can afford to buy iPads and iPhones and all other contemporary devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics 2006 study indicated that more than 90% of children are using some technological devices. The possibility of technology over-saturation is a factor that makes parents worry about the probable negative effect that use of technology might have on children (Roxby, 2013).
Moreover, app developers have also become more creative in their approach to apps targeting children. Their ability to enter into the children's mind through apps indicates the ways to determine and control what children think and how they behave. This issue brings about the concern as to whether toddlers are getting the best from the use of the technology or not. Rowan (2013) dispels this worry when she agrees with the original author's sentiments by stating "Children now rely on technology for the majority of their play, grossly limiting challenges to their creativity and imaginations, as well as limiting necessary challenges to their bodies to achieve optimal sensory and motor development."
The other aspect that the writer is much concerned with is the social aspect of apps, especially their effect on the relationship that exists between parents and their children. Technology apps can influence the way children communicate with their parents. Previous research studies suggested that children were more likely to become zombies and withdraw into their own social sphere as they engaged in using technology. Older research showed that the television was the notoriously mentioned device that was said to detach children from their environment, and have a negative influence on their behavior.
However, as the author of the article has found out, there is not much need to control the way the touchscreen generation uses technology since there is enough time for everything. Moreover, children have also displayed a high sense of responsibility, always picking on what suits them at the right time. Towards the end of the article the author discusses that she finally allows her son to use the iPad whenever he wants and shares the result. She shares with her audience, "Now he picks it up every once in a while, but not all that often. He has just started learning letters in school, so he's back to playing Letter School" (Rosin, 2013, para.52). This idea is amplified in Roxin's article Does technology hinder or help toddler's learning where she observes:
"So breathe more easily parents, your toddler is just doing what comes naturally and interacting with the world. In any case, technology, in the form of phones and tablets, is here to stay. Many primary schools and some pre-schools have introduced iPads into the classroom to facilitate learning. Technology, understanding how things work, and ICT are part of the curriculum."(Roxin, 2013).
The third aspect that the author of the article is concerned with is the learning process and mechanisms that children have in their environment. Conventionally, children were thought of and expected to learn through books. The argument was that they were effectively engaged while reading books. Technology like television, on the other hand, was not considered a serious mechanism of learning. TV was, in fact, compared to a blank space and children who spent most of their time watching TV were feared to experience stunted learning skills. However, the author notes that the technology natives can exercise, for example, word and problem-solving skills with the apps on their iPads.
The aspect of learning is important to every human being, as he/she can interact with the environment positively through learning. Young toddlers and children no longer require their parents to show them how to use certain devices that they encounter every day, due to the ease of the touchscreen technology. They are also able to see the connection between what they are doing using their hands with what is taking place on the screen much faster than they used to do earlier. In fact, the use of tech apps and devices makes the connection between tasks pretty obvious.
The use of technology apps by children can also affect their relationship with the family members and friends. In the article Is technology sapping children's creativity? the author indicates that children all over the world need ti interact with technology apps as much as they need to interact with their environment through play and communication. Strauss (2012, para. 7), continuous engagement with apps can help nurture the relationship between the parent and his/her children. Therefore, parents should not be too controlling to the level where they inhibit their children's interaction process that seems to be shaped by the contemporary technologically learning environment. Through the use of apps, children are also able to build their social and emotional competence. As Strauss notes, "Concerned that many children today are learning to cope with their feelings and relationships by distraction and that screens of all kinds have become easy substitutes for the inner life experiences and personal interactions children need to have" (2012, para. 8). This supports the concern of the original article that the life of children is largely depended on technology nowadays and trying to remove the devices from them on serves to distract their feelings and experiences as children.
Another important aspect in Rosin's article is the understanding of how technology applications have become an integral part of the human life, especially for toddlers and young children. The cultural context, in which every other child is using a tech app, means that parents who are strict and follow all the suggestions about technology use by children need to change their views. It is no longer sustainable to cajole the way toddlers are using apps because technology is in their everyday surrounding. The apps also contribute positively into the performance of everyday activities of a child such as entertainment, learning experience, and intuitive problem-solving skills. These skills are essential in the current environment that is characterized with fast-moving and fast-changing social factors.
The technological influence on the use of apps by young children and toddlers is evident in the number of developers who are coming up with enticing apps. The developers seek for the input from children themselves on how to inculcate various aspects in the applications to make them more appealing to the children. The educational aspect is also essential with respect to getting parents to support the idea of apps specifically targeted at young children and toddlers. As the author points out, "The reason many children's apps are classified under "education" is to assuage parents' obsession with education as an important element of contemporary technology to be emphasized" (Rosin, 2013). Children themselves would prefer things that are kiddish or that parents cannot approve easily. An example the original author uses is the Toca Tea Party game where children suggested the inclusion of the spilling tea, something that no parent would encourage his/her children to do. Spilling teach is something that many parents teach their children not to do, yet it is the very thing that children want to experience on their apps. This means that the interests of children and those of their parents are in many ways parallel, especially where technology is concerned. That what many parents consider to be wrong is thrilling and interesting to the children.
The social aspect is evidenced in the way the author communicates with her son about the use of the iPad before going to school. Rather than scold her son and force him to do other things than playing with the iPad, Rosin allows him to use the iPad whenever he wants. In the end, she notes, "After about 10 days, the iPad fell out of his rotation, just like every other toy does" (Rosin, 2013). This fact should illustrate that parents do not need to worry about their children's continued exposure to technology apps as the social context will naturally enforce the need for a child to prioritize what is urgent and important in his/her surroundings.
In other words, the use of apps by children and the purported control that parents desire to have must reflect the real context. Therefore, on the side of a parent, it becomes challenging to encourage his/her child to love books and, at the same time, admonish children when they (parents) find them watching television or using technology apps. As the author notes, the contemporary child is living in a screen age and differentiating the bad from the good can be problematic as it is likely to create more curious children than if they were allowed to use the apps in the first place. It is also a demonstration of the fear of changes, and as such a reflection of the society's entrenched prejudices and the incessant desire to remain in the comfort zone (Rowan, 2013).
Strauss (2012)summarizes her agreement with the original author by exploring both the advantages and disadvantages and concludes:
"The fact that parents today have the option of so much technology can seem like both a gift and a curse. At certain times and in certain situations, when no other choice seems right, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we have a screen activity available to us. But at other times, we can agonize because our kids are begging for screen time and we want to see them engage in more beneficial activities."
She thus contents that parents need to remember what they know about learning takes place in children and use tech apps to guide children to learn. She further agrees with Rosin that parents need to use their inventiveness and ingenuity as a resource to help their young children and toddlers make use of the available apps to learn.
- Roxby, P. (2013). Does technology hinder or help toddlers' learning? BBC.
- Rowan, C. (2013). The Impact of technology on the developing child. The Huffington Post.
- Strauss, V. (2013) Is technology sapping children's creativity? The Washington Post.
- Rosin, H. (2013, May 20). The touch-screen generation. The Atlantic.