Today’s kids have earlier and more frequent interactions with technology than future generations. Our newest generations of children will never know a world without the connective powers of the Internet, of cell phones, and of constant communication with the rest of the world. What can today’s children gain from this early access to technology? A lot. Here are 5 benefits of technology for children.
1. Leads to Greater Independence
The informational resources on the Internet and within specific online libraries, bring a much greater accessibility to early education than was available to previous generations. Research projects can now be done without stepping into a physical library because there are so many sources online. That’s not to say, however, that we no longer need books. In fact, the Internet is a resource that allows for more access to books and high-quality information.
The advantages of easier access to information extend past the classroom into general knowledge gathering. When kids can figure out how to answer their own questions, it can encourage them to research further and follow independent trains of thought. This process can build independence, academic confidence, and help develop kids’ interest in new hobbies.
2. Builds Community and Social Interaction
The social connections the Internet fosters can help kids learn how to better communicate and collaborate with one another. Today’s youth can share interests in technology (in specific computer games, etc.) and share their mutual interests over technology (chat rooms or Facebook groups about specific hobbies, special interests, sports, etc.).
Not only does technology connect kids outside of school, it can also help bring students closer together and build student-parent connections. In school, games and group activities can be performed on a single piece of technology to encourage group collaboration in the classroom. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, teachers are involving parents in their children’s education by using visual, video and audio files to record and share their students’ work. This practice can open communication pathways between parents and kids and encourage confidence and engagement in the future.
As with any hobby or interest, there are also special clubs and camps to encourage and enhance kids’ interest in STEM and technology. 4-H STEM camps, for example, can foster both technology and social networking skills, leading to greater social engagement.
3. Encourages Engagement and Imagination
Technology doesn’t only encourage social interaction; it can also inspire students to take a more active role in the classroom or in education in general. Interactive games foster kids’ desire to complete tasks for short and long-term goals, developing logical reasoning.
Online games foster task completion for short term goals (such as levels in a computer game or getting a higher score) – a critical part of developing mathematical and logical thinking skills. Getting to the next level in a game can prompt children to ask what the next step is – in a game or in learning a new skill – and therefore help with perseverance.
The Internet can also introduce children to viewpoints, cultures and world views they wouldn’t be able to otherwise access and allow them to better empathize with others. In addition to connecting children with other parts of our world, technology can bring fantasy worlds to live and therefore foster imagination and learning.
4. Develops Core Competencies During Early Education
The use of technology in early-childhood encourages development of hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. One example of this is online games, many of which depend on the speed of movements. Many computer games also encourage attention to detail and the ability to put together clues that can solve a problem. These critical thinking skills can be crucial to putting together research, writing literary analyses, and other educational and workplace tasks later in life.
Early-childhood games can also foster better language skills. Children are not just learning to read but also learning how to pronounce words and understand the intricacies of language by following game instructions.
5. Technological Literacy Translates to Economic Power
Our economy’s reliance on technology grows every day. For those that are technologically literate, there are many advantages down the road. Early exposure to technology can help kids develop the skills they can use in high-powered, well-paying jobs in the future. There is a high-demand for technology jobs, which are projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by 13% from 2016 to 2026 (a much higher rate than the average of other occupations). The need for technical literacy is also growing in traditionally non-technical fields such as medicine or marketing.
There are many ways that technology is helping kids grow and learn. Parents looking for ways to encourage their kids to use technology in the best and most advantageous ways can check out our post on child-safe research sites.