Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt recently wrote that “for every person online, there are two who are not” and that his goal is to have the whole world online by 2020. It’s an ambitious goal in the right direction. Technology allows us to explore the world, create, communicate, and discover. We acquire the technical skill sets that allow us to be the engineers, physicians, nurses and electricians of tomorrow. We expand our opportunities and unlock unlimited potential.
The PNC Grow Up Great Initiative, the Fred Rogers Center and the Sesame Street Workshop encourage the use of digital devices in early childhood settings. These organizations understand that modern technologies rely on one of the most powerful biases we have — the preference for visually presented information.
There’s no question that technology is here to stay. Children born today will experience wondrous technologies most of us can’t imagine. But the skills they will always need to thrive — deep thinking, the ability to differentiate fact from hype, creativity, self-regulation, empathy, and self-reflection — aren’t learned in front of screens. They are learned through face-to-face communication, hands-on exploration of the world, opportunities for thoughtful reflection, and dreams.
When used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) tells us that technology allows teachers to offer instruction and skill rehearsal, expand the subjects and skills that they are able to cover, give children new ways to express themselves, expand opportunities for interesting conversations and more. I believe digital technology is a tool, not the answer. What do you think?