Sandy Warner

Teaching with technology

Technology and Childhood


  Recently I received an email from one of the parents from my class raising the question of where technology fits within the family home and the struggle many parents face between letting their children engage with technology and the need for children to play and explore. She hopes to collate people’s experiences and publish them in a book.  I have to admit, initially I was surprised by her email, because  as a teacher I am continually trying to find effective ways of using technology to enhance the learning in my classroom.

However, when I read her email again, I realised that it is something many parents may find themselves facing today. As a mother of two young girls many years ago, I too worried that letting my children engage with technology such as ipods, wii’s DS’s etc would inhibit their naturally inquisitive minds from exploring the world and developing their social skills. I steadfastly held onto my beliefs and deprived my own children, not caving in once to social pressures to buy a wii, when all their friends had one!

Since then I have been on a very deep learning curve. One of the wonderful things about teaching is that you are able to attend conferences that not only build upon your own knowledge, but it also enables you to hear about what some amazing speakers are doing, not only in a local context but globally. In recent years, I have been fortunate to attend  both state and international conferences and discover, learn and explore a myriad of ways in which technology is being used to enhance children’s learning. Now I worry that my own two daughters do not have enough access and exposure to the many forms of technology that is now available and I worry, am I doing everything I can to ensure that they are ready for whatever the furture holds for them.

And so how am I responding to my parents email?

Since recieving her email last week, I have had several interesting discussions with her and with my colleagues at my school. I believe we should support her in her journey to find the answers to her questions and to this end we have agreed to publish her email in our school newsletter, along with an invitation to other parents to come along to a Parent Forum in our school library, so that they can share their own stories and learn from each other. I have also invited our school’s ICT coordinator Kathy Turley to attend, so that we can educate our parents about the importance of technology in children’s learning and how we are using it at Port Elliot Primary School to enhance thier learning. I hope this will help many parents become better informed about the choices they have to make as parents and have a better understanding about what we, as educators, are trying to provide for and achieve for their children.

I will let you know how it goes….. 

Meanwhile I have provided a copy of her email below with her permission and would be very interested in hearing your thoughts and/or  feedback. Please indicate if you are happy for me to share your thoughts with her.

“I am a parent of two boys aged nine and six. One of the ongoing concerns within our family is technology and electronic devices. How do we safely allow technology to be a part of their, and our lives, and still let our children experience childhood? Does technology work in unison with childhood? Is technology so engulfed within our current society that we are required to partake whether we like it or not?  I seem to be having an increasing number of conversations with other parents about technology and its implications on our, and in particular, our childrens’ lives. There seems to be varying opinions on how to approach it, how to utilise it and how to discipline it, especially in regards to social use and educational purposes.  If you feel you have views to express in regards to this topic, then please use this as an oppurtunity for your experiences and ideas to be heard.  My aim is to publish a complete text which will include shared stories from parents and teachers in relation to “Technology and Childhood”. I think by documenting families approaches we can not only learn from each other, guide and help each other, but also record the current role that technology has in our childrens’ lives. Our young generations are going to be such a significant part of this country’s history. To a great extent they are “guinea pigs” to the social, physical and developmental outcomes of technology usage from a young age. 

So what is your approach?  

* There is no word limit for your contribution, however I wish to include as many varying stories as possible so a thesis is not encouraged! Please include the age and gender of the children involved, and how much exposure to any forms of technology they have, or haved experienced. * You may remain annonymous, or by all means include your name, town and state you live in. * Thank you for your time and participation. If you have anyone else you know of whom would be able  to make a valid contribution, then please pass this information on. * All contributions will need to be received by September 16th 2012.     

Thankyou, regards (name withheld at parents’ request) “


10 thoughts on “Technology and Childhood

  1. Great questions here and I am going to jump in with a few thoughts.

    1. Here is an interesting statement that grabbed my attention right away:
    “How do we safely allow technology to be a part of their, and our lives, and still let our children experience childhood?”

    I guess what I would ask right away is what have we determined as the notion of “childhood”? It is how we grew up or how kids are growing up now? If a kid played a board game would we better with that then a computer game? Both can be social but in a different way. If kids are reading, does it really matter if it is on an iPad or a paper book? We grew up with books and that was a new technology at some point that probably people were uncomfortable with. I think that when many see a kid using a digital device outside during recess, they are appalled, but when they see a kid reading a book, we commend them. In both situations there is good and bad and conversations that should happen with balance.

    2. Imagination is extremely important but what happens when we can bring imagination to life? When I was a kid, playing with GI Joe figures was an awesome activity for me and I would act out scenes forever yet those scenes were only in my mind. What if I could actually create something on a computer that would allow others to recreate those scenes? Drawing my ideas was seen as great for brain development, so where does creating something on a computer fit into this? Imagination is fantastic but we have to also think about how we can give kids a creative outlet.

    3. I think that this comment can be altered a touch:

    “Our young generations are going to be such a significant part of this country’s history. ”

    The reality is that this generation is important to the ‘future’ of the country which should look different and grow from our past. The idea that kids are “guinea pigs” can be said for so many generations with different technologies, whether it it books, film, automobiles, telephones, or televisions. Do we grow up in an environment where there was no change or do society’s just continue to change, progress and evolve? I actually grew up with a computer that I would spend a ton of time on as a child. That definitely had an impact on my development, but I think that it gave me the opportunity to create in a way that others before couldn’t. Was it negative? Probably some things were negative and some were positive, but with every advance in society, we give some things up where we also gain. That leads me into my last thoughts on balance.

    4. Balance is extremely important in this debate about what our kids are doing now. Ironically, I am writing this while watching the olympics which is a celebration of children that probably grew up with a gigantic lack of balance in their lives to be what many would consider to be successful. Is balance what we are aiming for or is it happiness, or is it both? I love this post by Will Richardson where he discusses the balance debate ( :

    “…the reality is that most of those folks who are concerned about kids needing balance are out of balance themselves, just in the opposite way. They’re not online enough, not reading, writing, participating, connecting and creating in these spaces as much as they need to be to fully understand the implications of these technologies for their own learning and for the kids in their classrooms. Lately, when I’ve been responding to people about the “balance” question, I go with “well, actually, you’re out of balance too, you know.” Richardson

    If we are really looking out for our kids, what experiences have we learned from using technology ourselves to help guide them through this unchartered territory. As someone who is an advocate for the use of technology in schools, I also am an advocate for exercise, connecting face-to-face, and trying different things. It is not that I am against the use of pencil, but I am against the lack of opportunity to have some meaningful opportunities to use technology in the classroom as well. We need to give kids Option A and B, not just provide one or the other.

    The idea of “balance” is important so as Richardson discusses, let’s figure out how we can model this balance by embedding the effective use of technology in our lives while also learning to put it away when we should. By being able to model and understand both, we are more likely to seem credible in the discussions with our children.

    With all of this being said, I believe that parents are doing their best to provide a life for their children that was better their own. I commend parents for asking these types of questions as these conversations are so important to improving the opportunities for our students in a safe way. In this whole discussion, this quote always sticks out to me:

    “Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time.”

    Thank you for the conversation.

    • Thanks for replying to my post George, you have raised some very interesting points.. I would love to share this with my parent as I think it would be helpful for her to hear a range of views and ideas on this subject. Do you mind if I pass on your post to her and as it may be published do you mind if she uses it in her book, with proper referencing of course! Please let me know

  2. Pingback: “…they were born in another time.”

  3. Pingback: Lesson 12.037: Reflection 08/06/2012 : To Cope with Spitballs

  4. I find the letter rather interesting and I have written some of my thoughts on it on my blog if you are interested. It is a tough question to answer as I think there is no one simple answer for every child.

  5. Pingback: “…they were born in another time.” | Connected Principals

  6. I have two children who are older teens now. We held off with many and most of the tech devices and games that were available when they were younger and often had a much slower “embrace” compared to many of their friends. I have never felt they were deprived – we just made very careful choices and considerations. I don’t see any negative impact on them presently. They use many technological devices, digital and web tools and platforms with much ease and skill. (oldest now in university)

    Recently we have been struggling with some social implications of texting. I invited dialogue about that on my blog. I thought I would share it here because I think the comments from parents and teachers might be helpful to this discussion:

    I also recently shared my thoughts about technology in another post, “Technology Misconceptions”

    I hope my sharing of thoughts and questions from these posts are helpful to the topic.

    Thank you for starting this dialogue!


    • Thanks for your comments Sheilat. I think this would be helpful for my parent concerned Do you mind if I pass on your post to her and as it may be published do you mind if she uses it in her book, with proper referencing of course! Please let me know

  7. Sure, no problem. Sorry I took so long to reply! Thanks.

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