Over the past couple of months I have been continually asked a similar question, "At what age should we be starting students on computers?" This is a great question with a not so easy answer. I'll admit, I sometimes feel like a cop-out when I give my answer... "It depends". To me, there is no age set in stone. It truly does depend on the individual and the motive behind their usage. I think children should be exposed to electronic devices at an early age in school, as they need this knowledge and understanding to be successful in future years. Like it or not, technology is here to stay and we need to start developing basic skills early so scaffolding can take place to ensure student future success. But what are those "skills? Many of you probably think I am referring to abilities like; how to log in, keyboarding and mouse/track pad skills. While some of these may seem important, are they really necessary for our students? Sure they need to have some ability to turn devices on and get to the application they are using, but with the continuing changes and advancements in technology such as touch screens, wearables, voice commands, are those "basic skills" necessary or even relevant? To me, the real skills we need to spend more time developing are showing students how to use their devices effectively to create content and access knowledge that could not conceivably be completed without the technology. I hate when educators use the term digital natives. Students are not digital natives, sure they have grown up in a digital world. Sure they know how to turn a device on and play, but do they truly know how to use it? Do they know how to build content? Do they know how to access information and then apply it? In many cases the answer is no, they don't. This is why I refer to them as digital tourist. They can navigate the device and explore different apps and programs, surf the net, but they often lack the ability to find, learn and show their understanding with digital content. It is for these reasons I believe we need to start to develop skills at a young age. Students need to be given the chance to explore technology in a safe environment. They need exposure and guidance so they can use these tools effectively. They also need to understand the impact technology can have on them both positively and negatively. To me, all students need to understand what being a good digital citizen is and how it can impact them for the rest of their lives. I believe these conversations and skills are essential for our youth and we need to start the process at an early age.
When is it too Young?
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