Modern childhoods becoming overridden with technology

By Jordan Bickham
Design Editor

Walking into my living room, I find myself in the background of a major production.  My 11-year-old sister and her little friends are in the middle of filming a video of their original dance moves.

Graphic by Jordan Bickham
Graphic by Jordan Bickham

Despite originally getting together to work on homework, the idea of videotaping their homemade choreography was too tempting.  And, just like every other night, my sister’s school work goes untouched.

As the oldest child in my household, I have the opportunity to observe my younger brother and sister.  Being five years older than my brother and seven years older than my sister, we are all in different points of adolescence with my sister in elementary school, my brother in middle school and myself in high school.

With these differing ages also comes differing interests and differing schooling.  Hearing about what they did in school today and what homework they do not have causes me to compare my childhood education to theirs frequently.

In the rapidly advancing age of technology, both of my siblings have been forced to utilize technology in the most menial tasks, making it the standard for any and every assignment.  All I hear about is video assignments, PowerPoint presentations and new apps to use.  And, while I understand technology is critical for the future, overusing technology in the classroom (and outside of school) can have a very negative impact.

While in elementary school, the extent of my knowledge of technology came through our weekly computer lab days.  Once a week, we would learn how to use basic computer programs such as Microsoft Word as well as how to type efficiently.  Even though it was not as extensive as my brother and sister’s knowledge, it gave me a solid foundation for when middle school and high school had me extensively utilize technology in a more appropriate manner for the future.  This one hour a week was something we looked forward to and saw as a privilege.

In contrast, both my brother and sister use technology on a daily basis whether it is for school or simply for fun.  And while it is great to understand technology, being completely immersed in it has its cons.

To begin, while my brother always has homework on the computer, he still cannot type efficiently.  Rather than focusing on the basics in elementary school, they quickly began using programs without ever learning simple tasks such as how to place your hands on the keyboard.

In addition, as seen even at the high school with the new iPads, technology can be a major distraction.  While, yes, it has very beneficial uses, it can also be a gateway to not doing schoolwork, such as in the case of my sister.  Last year, for Christmas, she received an iPad to use for school.  But, instead, it has become her new favorite toy.

Her iPad also become her way of communicating with her friends.  Rather than hanging out in person, her and her friends facetime and send videos back and forth, thinking it to be the equivalent of hanging out.  But, as I know first hand, using technology as a means of connecting with someone is not nearly the same experience.  Face-to-face interaction is not only critical to develop relationships with others, but it is also crucial for one’s development socially.  My sister embodies this idea as she sits at the dinner table with her phone basically glued to her hand.  Rather than spending time unplugged, she constantly has to be updated.

This technology has created a schism in learning development and the role of the teacher in the classroom.  Being a traditional learner, I thrive in a classroom that is focused on taking notes and taking tests, something I have been familiar with for years.  With the introduction of technology, neither my brother nor sister have many tests, or even much homework for that matter. Rather than the traditional worksheet that walks you through the learning process, they have meaningless projects that simply take up time.

At home, technology is also prevalent as my sister uses her iPad to look up videos on YouTube and record herself doing a cartwheel or making a new rubber band bracelet.  It is seen as my brother sits and plays video games for an entire afternoon.  Their use of technology never ends, rather than it being utilized at school or at home at a limit

Maybe I am simply too traditional, but I believe that technology could never replace the teacher’s role in the classroom, the communication between friends or real life experiences.  As technology advances, it becomes more interwoven in our daily lives and while this can be helpful, it can also be an issue.  As I see with my brother and especially sister, introducing technology at too young of an age can be detrimental socially and within education.  While technology can be helpful in some circumstances, the overuse of technology with children can be a major mistake.