Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Are devices like the iPhone, iPod, Wii, and computers making kids smarter? In the April 2010 Fast Company magazine article, “A” Is for App, author Anya Kamenetz, claims, “New studies and pilot projects show smartphones can actually make kids smarter.” Kids as young as preschoolers and toddlers are getting comfortable with using technology in their everyday lives. But what happens when tasks don’t mix?

Today’s 2 and 3 year olds love the iPhone and iPod Touch. In a recent visit by my 2-year old grandson, we learned the hazards of the iPod Touch for toddlers. Calvin loved to help himself to his mother’s iPod Touch, turn it on, scroll across the screen and find his favorite dice game. He was delighted to find the game, shake the dice, and select the numbers he wanted. Then came bath time. He hopped into the tub holding the iPod. His horrified mother retrieved the iPod, dried it in a bag of rice, and plugged it in. Nothing. That was the end of an expensive device that she had come to depend on.

Preschoolers are savvy at using cell phones, computers, and handheld devices. They are growing up in a digital world where they can learn independently, be creative, and feel a sense of freedom. But as young children learn to use the devices, the manufacturers will need to make them tougher and waterproof if children use them freely. The XO computer is a compact sturdy computer for kids that is big enough to keep track of.

I learned to use a computer in college, thought math was boring in school, and later learned to love all of the things my computer and iPod Touch apps can do. Today’s children are having fun with math and word games while waiting for their parents to finish errands and classes to begin. Some are using the devices as part of their classroom learning. I hope the portability and social aspects of the new devices will encourage more shared interaction than the previous generation's individual game playing and passive TV.

It will be interesting to see how technology affects the next generation in their work, relationships, and self-esteem. Expectations and values are changing already and sometimes for the better. Young people are able to keep up with the many changes and transitions better than some of the older folks. We can all learn to be adaptable and resilient rather than fearing change. You can send an email, text, or comment. I'd love to hear from you. I also use Skype, iPod Touch, and Mac. How well is technology working for you?

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