Technology and kids — a study in contrasts

Since OneHope develops relevant Scripture engagement products and programs geared for children and teens, we closely monitor what is trending globally in pertinent arenas such as education, technology, psychology, spirituality and communication.

We have been whiplashed by the sharp contrast in studies that are coming out about the role of technology in child development.

Some major developers clearly believe technology is essential to child development. Or maybe they just see a “new market” to tap into. Educomp recently revealed that they will be releasing more than 230 apps for toddlers, and Apple recently launched its Apps for Kids store. Technology is increasing its reach to younger and younger people.

Samsung is releasing a tablet, the Galaxy Tab 3, just for kids. It is being rolled out in South Korea and possibly the UK, India and Africa before making its way to the US market.

With technology pieces being produced specifically for children, the ability to advance the Gospel to younger people increases as well. Hence why we have begun developing church-friendly, Bible-rich digital ministry initiatives like Incredible Islands and Bible App for Kids.

But on the other side of the debate psychologists and parents contend that too much technology introduced at too young an age is bad for kids. There is an outcry that screen time of any sort is detrimental to infant, toddler, and elementary aged children’s cognitive and social—and in some cases, physical—development.

Japan is planning to introduce “fasting” camps for youth meant to “detox” or break them from Internet addiction, which is being blamed for causing sleeping and eating disorders as well as depression in young people.

Since we are raising the first generation of digital natives, they are basically an experiment. We won’t know about lasting effects of technology until more time has passed.

What we do know is that, for better or for worse, kids are increasingly immersing in the technology pool at younger and younger ages. That is why we have placed a significant focus on developing digital ministry tools to support parents and churches by providing them with quality, age-appropriate, Scripture-rich content that is a good digital option for kids to engage with.

Kevin Kelley, author of “What Technology Wants” describes the dynamic pull of technology as, “The technium also wants what every living system wants: to perpetuate itself, to keep itself going. And as it grows, those inherent wants are gaining in complexity and force”.

Technology itself isn’t evil. It’s simply a tool, and a very mesmerizing, captivating tool at that. But it won’t monitor itself, and children aren’t yet equipped to self-supervise or restrict themselves in this arena. Parents, partnered with Christian influencers in the Church, need to work on becoming more intentional about helping kids learn to be smart and safe digital citizens. Good parenting—with great Church support—ought to guide what healthy technology boundaries look like.

Sources:

Educomp unveils 231 apps for toddlers

Samsung launches a tablet for kids

Japan To Introduce Internet ‘Fasting Camps’ For Addicted Kids

Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. New York: Viking Penguin, 2010. Print.

Parents Urged Again to Limit TV for Youngest

Introducing Apple’s New “Kids” App Store

Rob Hoskins

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Rob Hoskins is the President of OneHope. Since taking leadership of OneHope in 2004 he has continued to advance the vision of God’s Word. Every Child by partnering with local churches to help reach more than 1.5 BILLION children and youth worldwide with a contextualized presentation of God’s Word.

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