Monday, March 25, 2013

Kids, Electronics and Communication Skills

It seems kids nowadays are far more technologically advanced than their elders. Preschool aged kids are being introduced to the computer to help them learn their ABCs and 123s. Elementary school aged kids are learning how to do PowerPoint presentations instead of plain old book reports. By the time they are in middle and high school they are expected to know how to use a computer fluently.

Heck my son knows more about working our entertainment system than I do. He knows how to get a video to play from our computer onto the tv screen without reading a user manual.  It's almost second nature to kids today.

However, have you heard teen aged kids talk on the phone recently? When I was younger we stayed on the phone for hours on end. Now it seems you need to pull teeth to get them to say almost anything.  "Hi!", "Yeah", "Okay", "Whatever" and "Fine" are about all you'll hear from most teens when you ask them a question.

How many times have you seen 2 kids sitting in the same room not saying a word but they are busy texting away to each other. I suppose it's their equivalent of whispering or passing notes.

As a parent I try to limit the amount of screen time my kids have and encourage them be more social. Whether it be television, computer, hand held games, iPods, etc. these devices are considered a treat.

When my kids were younger, my family used these types of devices when we are waiting at the orthodontist, on long car rides and occasionally for educational purposes. Now that they are older, the kids use them once all their homework is done for about 30 minutes. Let's face it if it were left up to the kids they would play for hours on end.

Many kids would prefer to play video games all afternoon instead of playing outside, but encouraging them to have face-to-face time with others helps them learn to read body language and to respond to the emotions of others.

Thank goodness, the 5th grade teachers at my son's school feel the same way I do and actually makes the students do oral reports each month in front of the class. Nothing fancy - only 1-2 minutes, but it helps them get over any fear of speaking in front of others. Plus it encourages them to share a little bit about themselves with their classmates. Perfect for kids who are more reserved.

Learning to use a computer and other electronics is useful and beneficial to their education, but just like everything else, they need to be done in moderation.

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