TED Conversations

scott lee

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Is technology actually GOOD for children?

In modern society we are giving more and more technology to kids. Whether this is a good thing depends on who you ask.

Some say giving kids more access to computers gives them an opportunity of a head start in learning how to use them, giving them an edge in succeeding in an ever more computerized world. Others say computers are depriving kids of natural play, exercise and in some cases even interfering with brain development.

Some say it is giving children never before seen abilities to connect with other kids from all over the globe, giving them access to other cultures, points of view and ways of seeing the world. Others say the reliance on computers and social networking is stunting kids development of real face to face social skills which are crucial to success in the real world.

Some say the web gives kids never before seen access to information. From wikipedia to online books, from online education to you tube how to manuals, kids can now find the answer to more questions than their parents or teachers could ever know. Others point out that with all that information comes video games, advertising and child centered marketing which is undermining parent's ability to instill wisdom and values on to the next generation. They say the child centered marketing is promoting narcissism and materialism to kids; promoting violence and aggression to boys and sexualization and negative body images to young girls.

Parents can't really always control what their kids use computers for and it is sometimes easier to restrict access that to be a censor. As parents should we be encouraging our kids to use computers and smartphones at a young age or should we be sheltering them from the consequences that technology brings with it?

How young is to young?

+4
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    Aug 31 2011: Is a knife useful or dangerous?

    No censorship - teach them how to use it safely.

    Trouble is, many parents are clueless when it comes to the internet.
  • thumb
    Sep 1 2011: Yes, I believe it's a good thing. But I also think we have to teach them the basic ways of surviving just incase technology fails us one days. Things such as farming and how to make a fire with two sticks.
  • thumb
    Sep 9 2011: I feel that exposing children to all of the technology that we have to offer to them is a good thing--as long as the children understand HOW that technology works and HOW that technology is improving their lives.

    Take for instance the calculator. A student must first learn what 2 + 2 is and how to compute 2 + 2, manually, before they should be allowed to use the calculator to do the arithmetic for them. (Please note that I am NOT saying a student should or even needs to use the calculator to compute 2 + 2, I just used 2 + 2 as a for instance).

    I also feel that as long as the student can understand and know what the calculator is doing for them, then using the calculator is a beneficial tool. The calculator allows the student to focus on the bigger picture at hand, such as solving an equation, and does not have them bogged down on the arithmetic.

    As a side note: the child using an iPad in school to take notes while in class is learning to use a technology that will most likely be obsolete by the time they graduate from college. Which means that teachers are teaching children to use technology that has not even been invented yet. So, if we don't use and expose children to the technologies that we have now, are we not putting our children even further behind in the long run?
  • Sep 7 2011: Whether parents believe computer access is appropriate or not for their childs stage of development, they are already in almost every preschool facility. Research has found that most computers in preschools are monitored at most by a teacher's presence in the same class space. That limits the parents ability to guide and make judgements about their childs exposure, and to put in limits or boundaries, unless they are pulled out from the preschool system - extreme censoring perhaps!
    • thumb
      Sep 10 2011: I think this is the point. The education system is rushing into a computer based learning system with little account to how children actually learn. But its not across the board. I have a friend whose child is in a private school that doesn't introduce children to computers until grade 8 because they believe that physical play and interaction with the real world is more important the virtual world. They even encourage parents to not have any "screen time" in their house so the children can have a circle of friends that are insulated from the negative effects of television and video games.

      I think these options should exist in the public school system as well.
  • Sep 3 2011: What also needs to be taken into account is how technology impacts upon a child's senses, and consequently, how it effects the development of their brain and nervous system. Technology which is beneficial to one individual can be damaging for another. For example cities are becoming increasingly polluted with sensory stimuli, and in particular with sound, which can be overwhelming for the developing child. This sound, which could be described as noise, is produced partly as a result of the use of vehicles, and other technologies.
  • thumb
    Sep 1 2011: Are the genes you passed on to your children good for them? Is your culture good for them? What choice do you have? Yes, in your example involving the internet, there is some choice and some control you can exert, but first principle: do no harm. Don't act out of fear. Be a guide, not a censor. Teach them the good parts and explain why to avoid the bad parts, whatever that means to you, playing your parental role as best you can. Relax, and give them plenty of loving attention.

    So much for the platitudes. In theory, our new culture of open information and intense connectivity may save our species and bring us to amazing new levels. In practice, as a parent, so many new challenges. Sitting is bad for their health, violent games seem so very wrong, and in real life, they don't get to be resurrected every time they get killed.
  • Aug 30 2011: This is a tough? My children knew more about computers before I did! They started in 4th grade. They are grown adults now. I played the bad cop, I didn't let them sit in their rooms for hours on end. I checked in on their teachers and their lessons. I knew, they NEEDED this knowledge for their future. I refused to let them become little bedroom hobbits. (their dad bought them computers for Christmas.) It must come down to the parents and the school system. (What little school system we have left.) We need a computer etiquette class, starting in kindergarten. IT must start at home at the early age. Our children are the new tech age. What they do with it, is up to the parents. It is up to the schools, virtual or reality school!! With respect to you Mr. lee! Good debate!!
  • thumb
    Sep 26 2011: On the video games issue we disagree. Just because it has "games" in the title, doesn't mean everyone should play all games. The reason for the age rating on games are the same as those for movies, and it irritates me that parents don't let their children see violent movies but let them play violent games made for adults.

    On the other hand, in videogames the violence is often more contextual than in movies, with consequenses playing out interactively. Grand Theft Auto, for instance, is looked on by many as a game where you run over people and kill prostitutes, and a game for kids. In addition to having an M- rating, this is a game that actively punishes you for doing crime, and if you do enough of them, the game will send police and army to hunt you down, making it near impossible to escape after commiting very wicked crimes.

    I personally have a fun time with violent videogames, and often play them with friends of similar age. I have no objections against violence in videogames, and in some often find it hilarious. In the real world, however, i abhore violence to a degree that it sickens me. As long as children are properly explained and have an understanding of what a videogame is, there is nothing (yet) that can break the barrier and make you believe that a game isn't a game, unless you have a severe pre-existing condition, where the game isn't causing anything you don't already believe.

    On the clothing, and regarding young girls and boys, i agree.

    Thank you for replying :)
  • Sep 12 2011: Ana , and the problem with the way it's used is? Please enlighten the community with your wisdom.
  • thumb
    Sep 10 2011: As long as they can still read fairytales on the I pad.
  • Sep 7 2011: I believe videos are extremely violent and causing violence in our youth. I believe young is under 18 and that we are promoting sex to young girls way to early.
    • thumb
      Sep 26 2011: James Kindler: Can you clarify? Do you believe most videos are more violent than before?

      Do you think that we promote sex to young girls too early, but not young boys?

      I have yet to see any evidence that violent movies, games or books actually causes violent behavior. Doyou?
      • Sep 26 2011: Hi Marius
        I do think our video games are far to violent and promote violence among our youth. As for sex I think the clothing and commercials are enough to promote sex to young girls but not boys. But then again, if the girls are dressed in practicly nothing isn't that promoting sex to young boys?
  • thumb
    Sep 7 2011: There is no such thing as "good" nor bad.

    Something you do, can have a "chaos theory" attached to it, in the very broadest sense of reality... We simply do not know if our own actions are good for us since we do not know all the data involved constantly...

    Technology is impartial. It is the result of intelligence in the form of science, engineering, physics, mechanics etc.. These are trades and disciplines they are impartial. They are tools, as can be the idea of "good" and "bad"

    Commonly in my experience anything people put relative to thoughts to Islam, are "bad"... Ignorance and unawareness create this illusion.

    If you are afraid of what your kids are looking at, communicate better, if they are lying, investigate, and if it is serious, intervene. Privacy is a virtue, but again is it really "bad" to stop a pending problem from manipulation? OR is "better" to be "confident" and have no control of future events? I am all up for allowing a child space to grow, but indeed some people find pleasure in tainting youth.. desensitizing is common among heavy internet users that explore all corners of the internet... dark dark places exist, places older TED members would argue do not exist..

    Other PEOPLE are more of the concern here, than technology.

    How young is young, is a "good" question to me, as it is relative to our common language usage (linguistics) and culture.... as youth should respect elders... which I am impartial to, respect gains respect period.

    Ageism, is a cultural phenomenon. The idea "age" means something... especially in younger ages... is interesting to me. It's something I cannot grasp because I tend to know more than people twice my age, therefore I make information gathering a priority, so it should be that way in a sense.

    Moral: Educate kids on critical thinking, and they will filter out the "bad" for themselves.. or what they think is bad.. I guess we should try and create ethical education systems before academic, both?
  • Sep 5 2011: It's here to stay, it's part of their generation. Parents have a huge role to play in guiding and educating their children about the pitfalls of the Internet. It's necessary to start children's education in this area ,much younger now than say 20 years ago.
    Parents should control access to computers and phones etc of their children, parents also have the responsibility to learn about these new technologies and social network sites in particular, otherwise they will be extremely baffled by how technology and social network sites work and what they offer - especially in terms of security. Without this knowledge the parents cannot possibly control and help their children.
    Parents need to in my opinion set conditions of use and rules for these devices and one I condition in particular should be that..at any time i (the parent) will want totally access to the phone or computer. If not, the device should be confiscated. This isn't just to snoop, but to offer protection from materials that may have been sent by third parties, which children have no control over.
    How young is to young? Only the parent can gauge that, children all have different mental maturity ages, age itself cannot be used as a guideline.
  • thumb
    Sep 3 2011: Everything (education, religion - just name it) can be good and at the same time bad. What you see is what you get.
  • thumb
    Sep 3 2011: Of course,technology is very useful for us and thanks to technology we can reach lots of information at the same time.However,sometimes,people especially children can use it in a bad way.For example,teenagers can be very curious about sexual items and they can reach easily these kind of information,thus,this circumstance can lead to psychological problems.Because of that,parents must restrict access the Internet.
  • thumb
    Sep 2 2011: I think that technology has really changed our lives more in positive than in negative. Even though, I believe that we're turning little children into technologists and voracious digital consumers before they've even learned to ride a bike.
    • Sep 5 2011: You think? Positive? Children do not have any choice now but to learn about this stuff. It's not going away!
  • thumb
    Sep 2 2011: I think its good but some factors are really dangerous for children .........!
  • Aug 30 2011: This is a good topic. I think that technology and esp. the Internet is good for children and the whole society. The Internet is changing our society for better as it allows people to learn so much, communicate with anyone, participate and donate easily and build communities and friendships (both online and offline). I think the Internet is the most important invention of all time as it helps to spread knowledge, understanding, freedom and opportunity.

    I don't think there is any age limit for when a child can get hands on technology. My friend's daughter was not even 2 years old and she already knew how to turn pages of her favorite book on tablet. It is now natural for her to use it.

    What I think is important is for parents to realize that the Internet, as any other tool, can be abused by individuals (e.g. pedophiles, hackers) and companies seeking to profit from unethical practices. Therefore parents should educate their children rather than constantly monitor them (which is not possible anyway). Educated kids will know how to deal with these dangers and will avoid them. Of course if they are too young to yet understand certain concepts one can use software that block certain websites (like Net Nanny).

    Our society will continue to be increasingly dependent on technology and younger generation will use it in ways never before. We, as parents, need to let them learn as much as they can so they can participate in this trend and use it to their advantage?
  • Aug 30 2011: I believe, Any technology is good for anyone as long as it does not pollute the 5 elements and does not act as a tool for destruction of lives
  • Aug 30 2011: I can't say what is good and what is bad (as no souch thing exists), but it certainly has more benifits than downsides. 0 is too young. Brain connection start severing first time at age of 3 (unused ones), and second time at puberty. Objectively learn them as much as you possibly can, and make them think for themselves and how to be autonomous. Also check the first part of the text: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Polgar#Chess_career
  • Aug 30 2011: What makes anything good or bad? The way it is used. I don't think you can say technology is inherently bad or good. I think it would be good to get a better understanding of technology's impact on children, and approach how to move forward from there.
    • Aug 30 2011: Speaking about technology in very broad sense (crossbow, arrow, axe, knife, plow, tractor, combine, nuclear reactor...) I guess overall pretty benificial - at least when survival issues are concerned.
  • Aug 30 2011: How can it be considered bad? If they don't understand technology they will be seriously handicapped in the world of tomorrow. Too much of anything is bad though.