TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Should we really be so impressed that kids can use digital things?

It IS impressive for a 2 year old to navigate an iPad to find her show, or even manipulate her singing dog to play her favourite song. But, isn't this just memory and habitual skills? We are so amazed at how kids can navigate these relatively more complex toys, because we sure never had the same intuition with them. But is it really a higher-form of learning? I suspect that it's not really. If these things break down, kids don't know why or how. They can't fix them--this just reveals a consumer-level of knowledge, still. Being a digital native, whatever that is, is largely passive.

I really like the idea of true tinkering, creation, first principles and just making things from scratch. And not with just digital things: creating a meal, a garden, a wearable garment, a vehicle etc. Though, if we are going to talk digital--we need the programmers. Why is it that everyone can complain about what's wrong with Facebook, and no one can hack a better version?

I don't know, surfing, deciphering, clicking on the right spots and knowing what technology can do for you is one category of skiils, but this is quite separate from an understanding of the depth, algorithms and logic behind building a system that enables the "magic"--we need to save our awe for THAT.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 23 2012: currently, most digital devices are used as toys and little else.

    the greatest strength of things like tablets is the simplification of creating multimedia content. this does not mean that kids can create sophisticated films - that still needs to be taught and learned and quality still takes time.

    many modern devices are designed to be simple to use. this doesn't always equate to quality.

    however, for those students that struggle with or dislike writing and other traditional forms of communication, there are now options for capturing oral language and telling stories in a format many students are more fluent in (TV, sound and Film).

    i don't really think devices open the door for creativity, in fact, once you get to a certain point, they are probably limiting, but i can see that they might for some people.

    personally, i see it all as a kind of fadgetry..
    • thumb
      Nov 25 2012: Hi Scott, Maybe it would be good in an age of so many tools, to make sure young people experience all the various media available to us to say what we need to say: theatre, the 'zine, garage bands, silk-screening, flash animations etc. Something is bound to make sense!

      Sometimes I think just because we've paid so much for our gadgets, we use that as an excuse to focus on these devices and expect them to streamline everything--until they don't and we inevitably move on to the next thing, none the wiser.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.