Children and gadgets

Children and gadgets
Highlights

Parents saying no to the gadget at once would definitely make her resistive and hostile. So, to start with I said, let me cut off the cartoons at least. I had to look for a substitute and I resorted to the Play Store. I was surprised to see the many apps. So here I find one with some interesting stuff, far better than the no-sense stuff. 

A few days ago, I had a look at one of the Pre-schooler’s app on Google Play Store. Given the fact that my daughter was getting addicted to the smartphone and watching the “no-sense cartoons” (I don’t see any relevance to practicality or common sense. And so, I call them ‘no-sense’) I was looking for ways to divert her.

Parents saying no to the gadget at once would definitely make her resistive and hostile. So, to start with I said, let me cut off the cartoons at least. I had to look for a substitute and I resorted to the Play Store. I was surprised to see the many apps. So here I find one with some interesting stuff, far better than the no-sense stuff.

There was counting – You would count the number of pictures and identify the number.You would also need to identify the number of fingers shown and match the corresponding number.There was an identification of numbers and the alphabet. You would have to identify a letter or a picture, on the screen following a voice instruction.

There was a tracing of the letter patterns and numbers. You will have to run the finger on the screen to learn patterns and writing. This was something I thought was definitely better than cartoons. And this didn’t need a data connection since it was downloaded on my phone already, yet another reason for me to be all the more satisfied.

I began to wonder – how these smart apps have actually changed the way we learn and the way we are taught. My niece and nephews carry i-Pad (tablet) to schools. They are asked to submit their assignments online. That makes it easy for their teacher to evaluate too.

All this sounds impressive. Times are changing. Ideas are changing. We need to evolve and keep reminding ourselves to keep abreast of these changes!

The last decade saw a revolution in e-learning process trying to replace the conventional methods of education. How good or how bad is this? Would this learning revolution be an impediment or would it supersede the conventional study methods (as it already seems to be doing so)?

A couple of months ago, I was interacting with Class IV students at a school trying to explain the concept of a flow chart. To begin with, I had given them a task to think and come up with a plan for their upcoming holiday and how they would have that implemented.

One of the students said – “I don’t have to think, I would just ask Google and it knows everything. It will help me plan and chart out my details.” It did bring a smile on my face. I was impressed at his spontaneous answer at the same time pondered how Google-ing changed our perception to think, learn and understand something.

Conventional vs e-learning
I remember starting on a 286 computer back in the 90’s while my dad was one among the first ones to have a computer system – at home. People visited us to ‘see’ the computer. I would demonstrate Paintbrush and draw something leaving their jaw dropped.

Then we updated ourselves to the Pentium processor, multimedia system and a colour monitor! Using the Britannica or the World Book Encyclopedia as a reference to many of school projects was indeed amazing.
However, the usage was restricted. The information was limited and we used the system as a reference and not the ultimate source of information.

If you have to teach the child the concept of gravity- would it be best to use a gadget where a video would show an object falling on the ground? Or would it be a good idea to drop something and make the child feel gravity? Does it really help in building cognitive skills in children? I always debate with myself on this.The international schools – implement hi-tech education systems while there are still schools that run with the conventional methods.

While we were at school – we started with the programming language BASIC (Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), sometime in high school.Today, you have concepts of OOPS, Java, C and multimedia being taught at the same high school level.

This shows that the students are indeed receptive to such subjects, which were once subjects for engineering students or researchers.

Parents Perception
I have heard people who would say with pride, “we never let our kids watch the computer or let them use gadgets” while some parents would very pompously say, “Our kid carries his tablet and works on it for all his assignments and learns faster.”

Some parents would actually demand ‘hi-tech’ education systems at schools while some of them get apprehensive assuming, having such ‘hi-fi’ education system is not safe for their kids. Of course, it means a bigger risk to the parents’ pockets to invest in the hi-tech systems.

They would prefer a conventional school that ‘doesn’t use hi-tech systems’. There is always a debate on this. However, too much of anything is a danger. These e-learning methods can only be used as a supplement to the conventional systems.

These gadgets are indeed a boon to this generation. The right usage and the right implementation can help us evolve and explore and build a stronger future that can correct the pitfalls of the current education system.

We cannot rule out the conventional educational practices totally. When we are in dearth of good teachers, these gadgets and e-learning are a huge blessing. Especially in building literacy in a country like India, we need more such innovations that will attract rural communities towards understanding the importance of education – not merely seeing the lucrative job offers but to see how literacy can benefit their everyday living. Their perception can be changed.

However, these gadgets are highly addictive. Therefore constant precaution should also be applied. In children, using the gadgets for a long period of time can disturb vision. They may be less enthusiastic to go out and play, and would rather stick to a video game on the gadget.

For a good physical and mental growth, playground time is important than TV/device time. Research reveals that watching too much of these gadgets make kids aggressive and hyper especially before bedtime. It disturbs their sleep cycle.

By: Yojana Moghe

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