Every time you turn around, your children are requesting the newest version of a technological gadget. While one child madly texts friends in the back seat of the car, the other is scanning Facebook, admiring his 378 friends. You may simmer with frustration that their grades aren’t up to par, considering whether or not you should take their phones and/or computers away for a while. But then you remember the money you’ve spent on eBooks and learning games and you wonder, “Are electronic gadgets the problem or the solution?” The answer is, “Yes” and “Yes”. Therein lies the conundrum. As with most things in life, the true answer lies somewhere in the middle.
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Research shows that eReaders, such as Amazon Kindle products, not only increase children’s interest in reading, but also promote their reading comprehension. In a survey of 1200 eReader owners, Amazon reported that the owners’ purchases of non-eBooks increased by 3.3 times. It appears that reading begets more reading – and with kids, that is a wonderful thing.
Current education trends recognize that not everyone can read text and immediately comprehend the meaning. eReaders offer multi-media applications such as instant dictionaries, pictures, or graphics that help to illustrate examples. There are eGames that help reinforce what a student has just read. Math and vocabulary games have been proven to increase students’ interest in the classroom, as well as raising their test scores. But as Newton’s Laws of Motion illustrate; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In the electronic gadget arena, the negatives can be an individual’s own lack of discipline. As you sit at your computer working on a project, how often do you notice you have a new email and instantly check it? You might even type out a quick response and then get back to work. Or perhaps you think about the event you are attending at the end of the month and quickly search a few online stores to see if you can find a gift for the host. Now picture that same scenario, but imagine you are your child.
He or she is working on a homework assignment that requires analytic thought, but every fifteen seconds there’s another ding or beep indicating a text has come in, Facebook has been updated, and so on. It is impossible for a child’s mind to remain engaged on the task at hand if he/she is continuously interrupted by outside distractions. Even the most disciplined of children feel the strong pull of peer pressure, and saying, “I don’t respond to texts while doing homework,” is an unlikely response to friends’ queries.
You Are The Solution
Electronic gadgets can be tremendous learning tools. They’re able to reach a myriad of learning styles and create a forum where children can connect with the learning style that engages them in the learning process. They make people want to read more. But, they can also be the reason that your child didn’t spend adequate time studying for tomorrow’s math quiz. You can become a part of the solution by setting an example that work time is gadget free time.
Unless your child is using his/her new Kindle Fire to read a book, or play a learning game under your supervision, homework time can be gadget free time. That goes for you too. Perhaps evenings at home can be gadget free while homework is completed and dinner is shared. With a little honest conversation with your children, and some reasonable boundary setting, your children’s gadgets can be both the perfect tool and the perfect toy.
What are your thoughts?
If you think (like we do) that gadgets and education can co-exist in perfect harmony, then let us know in the comments section. And to find out how we are using technology in our tutoring sessions, give us a call!