Tech is the New Tool in the BoxSep 18, 2015
As modern moms, we use technology to manage our personal calendars and kids’ after- school activities, order groceries online, and even book babysitters. We video chat with family members from afar, deposit checks to the bank using our phones, and make calls from smart watches. We’re armed with mini personal computers at nearly every moment of the day, the world just at our fingertips.
While most of my interactions with tech have occurred in my adult life, I had the benefit of being introduced to technology at a young age. As a second-grader, my class spent time each week in the school’s computer lab where we played educational math and geography games. (Oregon Trail, anyone?) Though the topics were the same as those we covered in the traditional classroom, the computers made learning interactive, fun, and engaging. A childhood friend of mine was lucky enough to have a computer at her home (I could hardly believe it), and together we would spend hours creating greeting cards and banners using Print Shop, despite the how painstakingly long it took for the dot-matrix printer to produce our final projects.
Nowadays, children are familiar with technology at an even younger age because we parents tote our smartphones with us everywhere we go. They see us using technology consistently throughout the day, so it’s no surprise that children want to play along. In fact, they're the first generation to have a high-tech childhood where there is no divide between the tools at their disposal — a crayon, paintbrush, and technology are all means to create.
With so many of the world’s transactions executed using technology and the Internet, it’s imperative that we allow our children access to the tools that will be crucial to their success as adults. Digital literacy is more important to their future than ours. The question that we face as parents is how to manage our children’s interactions with tech, this new tool in the box?
Yes, technology is just a tool. It’s not evil because it lives in the digital world and is accessed through a screen. It’s simply another means to learn, create, share, access information, and connect with the people of the world, both near and far. How we allow our children to interact with tech is the real topic at hand.
The term “screen time” has been around long before iPads made it onto the scene. Remember the “couch potato” slang from back in the 80s? This fear of sedentary children emerged from the birth of cable television, MTV, and home video players. Times sure have changed—I was a kid, the television was the only screen my parents had to monitor. The era of the tablet is a new frontier.
While we may have stared blankly at the television, watching ridiculous sitcoms in our youth, our children are experiencing a much different relationship with screens, namely tablets. They have access to games that teach spelling and reading, apps that allow them to compose music and edit videos, paint pictures, create collages, even grow virtual gardens. They interact with the apps, making decisions and design choices. They’re playing in a more engaged way, despite the fact they’re using technology. And using tech can help hone their hand-eye coordination, develop problem-solving skills, and even increase their motivation for task completion. (Gotta keep trying to unlock that secret level!)
We believe in the limitless potential of children’s imaginations at Seedling, and are setting out to revolutionize the way children play. We know that play is about the experience, whether digital or real world, and we see no distinctions or barriers. Children are inspired by a multitude of ways and we’ve made it our mission to create products, both offline and on, that help families imagine, create, and play together. We play where you play.
I remember the great sense of pride I felt as an eight year old, presenting my mother with the birthday card I designed for her on that old Macintosh. To create something and make it come to life was a momentous experience for me. I wasn’t even aware I was “using technology,” I was simply creating something from my imagination and heart using a tool that just happened to have the potential to bring that creation to life.