Technology is just a tool.

People can get polarized over things that – well – don’t matter.

bigdata-1423786_1280Some parents allow their children unfettered access to electronic devices. Some are as free, except they want to limit to educational material. Or, at the very least, games the kids will learn from.

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This is super cool, but it’s still (just) technology.

Some are very strictly anti-technology. I mean, very. I’ve made suggestions that I thought were innocuous, and certainly not comprehensive, that have been met with a quiet smile and a comment to the effect that “we try to avoid computers” or technology or electronics.

I get it. I do not believe that over exposure of this sort of electronic stimulus is beneficial to human beings. Trust me, I spend a large part of each day with screens of various sizes. It wears on you. And I strongly believe that young, developing brains need many types of stimuli – plain (paper print) books, outdoor play, physical activity…

But, technology itself is not the devil. Nor is it an angel. 

It’s just a term that means “tool.” Ask Merriam-Webster:

the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems

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Techno-phobic attitudes aren’t new. In the early 90’s, I was responsible for developing technology trainings for elementary school teachers, and I can recall feeling it necessary to stand up, the first day, first thing and make a point. I held up a pencil, and labeled it as technology. Just because it’s not a new technology, it’s not the latest technology, doesn’t mean it isn’t technology. Technology does not mean circuit boards, or electronics, or even electricity.

Here’s my point – then and now. Technology is simply a set of tools – no more, no less. That matters because if you’re not using the right tool, you’re not going to be happy with the results.

I have a friend whose daughter has a visual impairment which makes writing truly burdensome – to the point that her assignments must be adapted. Text-to-speech is a blessing for that family. #ThankYouSiri

I am serious about pinching pennies. I’m not going to photocopy page after page of drill worksheets for my children to practice math facts… not when there are engaging and motivational games that allow them to practice those facts (board games as well as video games).

What about applications that are not utilized directly by the student, but benefit them?

Why not manage materials and books using a free cloud application – who used what text when, what book was lent out on what date…?

How about printing materials? For six years, I had at least one child in my home who was in the 3-5 year old, early childhood, pre-kindergarten age range. Those children, sometimes, need to be kept busy. Like, when I’m trying to help an older brother read. Or when I’m on the phone. Or when we’re at church. I must have printed out, laminated and constructed nearly three dozen folder games, and activity bags. After those six years, the bin of activities went to the local preschool. The boys were always happy, and they never even got close to the computer. However, without the computer, printer and internet access, we wouldn’t have had those great, developmentally appropriate learning activities.

What fun. this was the first result in my image search on "technology." At one time, this was the way to travel great distances.
What fun. this was the first result in my image search on “technology.” At one time, this was the way to travel great distances.

I’m not telling you that your child should be on the computer. You know your child. I’m also not telling you to take away the evil tablet.

What I am endeavoring to suggest here is that you think about what your goals are, and only then, research and evaluate the most helpful tools to those ends.

4 thoughts on “Technology is just a tool.”

    • Thanks, Lynne. My goal is to use it appropriately, wisely, and hopefully have some of that perspective rub off on the kids.

  1. I agree. Technology has its perks. We allow our child to use technology. If we didn’t, I don’t think we’d be adequately preparing him for life (and eventually, careers) in the 21st century world. But, we do limit access. It’s not the be all, end all. We also want to encourage creativity with painting, puppets, blocks, etc. And we’re big readers – I’m a librarian and an Usborne Books consultant. 🙂

    • Ah! Our boys love Usborne books!

      That said – we love the library a lot – and not just for books, but for the programming. Our library is really good about offering teen/tween programming that channels kids’ interest in technology into practical applications, not just playing games or using word processing, but developing understanding of STEM concepts and utilizing tech for presentation and compositional purposes.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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