The times have changed, and so have parents’ expectations for their children, particularly when it comes to career choices. There was a time when the top careers were doctors, engineers, lawyers, and bankers. However, the digital age has disrupted the workplace. So, technology and the many things it can do have created many other relevant career options. This truth about the future of work then leads to the question of how to introduce a child to technology and prepare them for the emerging normal on the work front.
As it is with every worthwhile creation, there is a need for a good foundation if the upcoming generation would get the best of the digital age as it unfolds. This article shares tips that can help every intentional guardian play their role right.
5 steps to help introduce a child to technology
Before you attempt to serve a child with the knowledge or ways of the digital world the reality of circumstances should be acknowledged. Things like the age of the child, your relationship with the child, and the peculiarities of every individual. Taking these into cognizance, it goes without saying that the first step in this 5-step guide should be about the children and their interests.
Know the child and their interests
Every child is different and so are their interests. Having a good knowledge about the whos, whats, hows, wheres, whens, and whys of the child goes a long way in determining the best approach to take when introducing them to technology. Their interests will also determine what area of technology to guide them towards, and what resources and tools to expose them to.
Knowing a child’s interests is as easy as observing their tendencies and idiosyncrasies. Watch their behavioural patterns and how they relate to and act in different situations. Armed with this knowledge, you know what direction to point them towards.
Is the child interested in problem-solving in their interactions or when they play games? Maybe they should start learning to code.
Do they beautify things, or decorate them in special ways and styles with reasons? Maybe they should be driven towards design.
Is teaching something they gravitate towards as a skill, to make things easier? Maybe machine learning is their path.
Do they look for easier ways to do things and avoid repetition? Maybe Artificial Intelligence is the skill for them.
Note that they do not just jump to the expert level of these skills or careers. Simply introduce them to lessons that will make sense to them at their present level.
Start early and stay involved
Take advantage of biology. Biology lets us know that children can absorb a lot of things from 2 to 7 years. This means that from as early as 2 years you can check out their behaviours and expose them to age-appropriate technologies to form the digital foundations on which they can build later in life.
It is, however, not enough to just expose them so they can learn. You have to learn with them. Stay updated with their progress, gather data and see the effect of the exposure and be conversant with their routine. Vet their content and be a part of their learning flow. This will not only ensure that the process is not counterproductive, but will also create a better bonding experience between you and the child. Technology is not supposed to take your place, it is supposed to be a tool in your hands, as a guardian or teacher.
Provide and create resources of quality and value
Technology is a space that runs in tools, systems, and platforms. It is your duty to provide the necessary and appropriate tool, system, or platform the child needs to advance in their path. The earlier a child is introduced to these, the earlier they can master their techniques. This will give them an advantage ad the technologies advance; they’ll simply have to build on prior knowledge. However, do not focus on how many they know or work with, but on the effectiveness of the ones you introduce them to.
Focus on the quality and value of the resource and not the quantity. Having too many options can be overwhelming for the child and present different things all at the same time. Do your research and make the best choice of the available options and provide that. Once mastered and becoming less challenging, a new resource can be presented to the child.
Another angle to this step is when they have to build a resource like a folder or the like. Teach them that more is not always better. Having different resources about the place only caused confusion or disorderliness. Noting these tips from this step helps them stay organised and helps you build your smart-choice-making muscle.
Encourage creativity and allow them to explore
As earlier insinuated, there are no two children alike. Creativity is one of the best ways to show uniqueness. Allow the child to roam and explore in the path you know they are made for and let them express their uniqueness. This would be a path of discovery and you get to watch what they come up with.
While they learn of others’ creations, resist the urge to place them in boxes or slap labels on them. Doing this would limit them and dwarfen their creative power. Africa, indeed the world, is always looking for the next best invention or discovery. No one knows where it might come from. Allow your ward to explore and discover how high or wide they can grow. There is something within them that can be found nowhere else. Let it fly.
Set limits and boundaries
This might sound contradictory to the last step, but it is not. While we are talking about how to introduce a child to technology, the goal is always an all-rounded development. According to this study-backed article by Forbes, too much screen time might cause development issues as children grow older. Unfortunately, many things tech-related are also screen-related. from the learning to the designing to the coding, screens! The best way to handle this is to have both on-screen time and non-screen time in the plan. Screens can be addicting, and children tend to prefer on-screen activities. This is where your own creativity comes to play.
By tailoring fun non-screen conversations and activities around the subject of technology, you create new pathways in the child’s brain that teaches them that technology is not all about screens. But screens and their addiction is not the only thing to worry about when it comes to technology. The rate at which cyber insecurity is expanding is scary. Although they may not be in the crypto space, tips on how to avoid cryptocurrency scams and hacks are a good place to start in teaching children to protect themselves on the internet.
You should also use safe search options and other precautionary measures to protect both their devices, their minds, and their privacy. One cannot be too careful.
As the future unfolds, it is the duty of the present generation to build for the upcoming one. The future of work is not all predictable but following the trends, it is clear that the relevance of tech skills in the workforce is going nowhere anytime soon. The future belongs to those who can adapt, those who can operate complex tools, systems and platforms, and those who create. Using the above guide to introduce a child to technology, you might drive the growth of technological knowledge among children one child at a time.