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Kids and technology – how outdated are we?

Kids and technology – how outdated are we?

Posted on April 23, 2014

cartoons2-1fqu6fjCouple of years back when I took my daughter who then was  5-years old to my work on a Sunday, she showed me how to operate a smart board. Her first grade class had a smart board and she had become proficient using it. Until that time, I had not bothered to use the smart board at work as there were whiteboards on other walls of the conference room. As some of my co-workers can vouch, I am a heavy white-board user and do not miss any opportunity to scribble my thoughts on a board. That day I got a schooling in using a smart board from a 5-year old.

With this story as the background, one thing that has recently been bothering me is how outdated can our generation become? Actually, a more appropriate question would be how soon will we become outdated? With technology rapidly advancing, younger brains evolving faster and adapting to new technology quickly, no matter how technologically savvy we, as a generation are, we seem to be facing a losing battle. On top of that, we have to unlearn the current technology before learning a new one whereas the later generations do not have this additional unlearning to do.

Take for example an everyday usage as printing. The other day, we were in our public library and the library had a 3D printer displayed. Patrons of the library could go online, design a 3D artifact and print it on the 3D printer. Many kids had already queued up their artifacts and so there was a long line to get our artifact printed. However, we were able to see the 3D printer operate and print little plastic objects like legos. To my earlier point, the adaptation of this technology by kids is so fast that they are already designing objects. While my mind is grappling with the practical use of these objects, these kids have no use for practicality as long as it is new, exciting and fun.

The solution that is being loudly proclaimed is to change. Change is good and accept change as much as possible. One of the things that a neuroscientist suggested to do was to try on different things. Even changing a phone regularly and learning to use the new phone could be beneficial as new neural networks are formed in the brain when learning to operate a new device. This may not be a sustainable thing to do in the long run. However, there was a less expensive option that was also suggested. It was to use a different hand than the one you are accustomed to. For example, if you are a left-hander and habitually open the doors or pick up things with your left hand then try using your right hand to do these same things. This will build new neural connections that will keep the brain younger and active.

I personally have not tried any of these suggestions and am not sure how helpful these can be. It is quite possible that a kids’ brain could be making exponentially more connections than mine while adapting to new technologies. So, with a grim outlook, I would like to elicit a response from you all to find out solutions for this problem of our experience/skill getting outdated far quicker than we can replace it with new experience/skill.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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