Column: Parenting Technology: Using it as a tool, rather than a vice

'Raising Prescott'

Since the beginning of time, new technology weaves itself through each generation, making its mark on those who use it, for good or bad.

If history defines each leap of evolution, what will it say about today’s smartphone and tablet usage not only for us adults, but our children?

Head to any doctor’s office, or take a peek at the soccer mom in the van next to you at a local stoplight, and you’ll see the glow.

No, it’s not aliens, although some may think so. It’s iPads, Kindles, other tablets and smartphones keeping children busy like 20 questions and slug bug did for us at that age.

According to a recent study, the average adult looks at his or her smartphone more than 150 times per day. Other numbers estimate 56 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 13 own a smartphone.

But what about younger children, ages 2 to 6 let’s say? In my home, both my youngsters (ages 3 and 5) have a Kindle. My wife and I recently purchased them for Christmas (Shhhh, Santa brought them!) in an effort to not only keep them busy for long car rides, but to offer educational games and learning tools they just can’t get from a Jack In The Box.

ABC Mouse, ABC Ninjas, YouTube for kids, among others, are my kids’ favorites. My son A.J. can operate a flight simulator like nobody’s business.

In today’s world, even young children can fully operate these devices. Sometimes better than their parental counterparts.

And in the educational realm, classrooms are moving toward digital textbooks, learning tools, math and English apps, even video conferencing for homeschool kids.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 58 percent of U.S. teachers own smartphones, 10 points higher than average adults, and they are building that technology into their lesson plans. The “iPad for every student” movement is gaining traction.

Another study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood in 2013 indicated that digital games seem to affect children differently than TV, which isn’t interactive. While excessive TV watching can increase the risk for conduct problems, digital games did not.

Make no mistake, we are heading into a digital classroom age. By the time my kids are in high school, students may not even need to show up to class because they can learn the material, read and take exams from anywhere!

My wife and I moderate our children’s use of technology, making sure it doesn’t replace creative play, other toys and social time with other kids. We view our kids learning to use a tablet at this age as a preemptive strike to their possible future learning environment, because it’s important they don’t fall behind.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is an associate sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Periscope at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him by phone at 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.