While there is considerable debate about the amount of screen time kids should have, there’s no question that learning to use technology is a critical skill for today’s students. Technology is a powerful tool that kids use in their education, and it’s also an integral part of almost every career that they will have in the future.
But what are kids really learning when they use technology? In addition to the technical concepts they acquire, kids are also practicing key skills that will come in handy in all aspects of their lives.
Here are five skills kids gain when learning to use technology that they can also apply to real life.
1. Critical thinking
Critical thinking is a decision making process that requires a person to identify and evaluate all the possible solutions to a problem, or all the courses of action they could take in a given situation. It’s an important skill for to kids to acquire early, as it will allow them to make informed decisions throughout their lives.
Technology is a great method for kids to practice critical thinking. It gives them access to a powerful way to research new subjects and evaluate the information they find. By teaching kids to use the internet responsibly and safely, they can learn how to gauge the quality of information they find and how to use that information to make educated choices when presented with a problem.
2. Resource management
Although resource management may not come to mind when you think about important skills for your child to develop, you may be surprised to think of all the ways it can apply to your child’s life in the future! One day, they will have to shop for groceries, pack for vacations, and even manage their own bank account. Each of these day-to-day activities is an exercise in resource management, whether that resource is food for the week, clothes for a weekend trip, or money to spend.
Technology teaches resource management in a variety of ways. In strategy games likeMinecraft, resources are a crucial component of being successful in the game. They must learn how to conserve their resources for future projects, and how to combine resources to achieve the most positive impact. In role playing games, kids must manage their character’s’ health, resources, and more to continue moving forward in the games. Over time, kids will learn things like when to save versus when to spend, ways to conserve resources, and the consequences of overspending.
3. Trial and error
Trial and error is a key skill that kids must develop in order to be successful. Whether they’re solving a new math problem or trying to pass the next level in their favorite video game, trial and error allows them to test new methods and techniques to accomplish their goal.
When using technology, there are plenty of ways to accomplish the same thing, but all of those options may not be apparent to a beginner. Trial and error allows students to figure things out for themselves, which is a great foundation for them to become an independent, empowered problem-solver in all areas of their life. Many also refer to this in technology as failing forward.
4. Healthy competition
Competition is a fact of life. From playing on a school sports team to comparing grades on a big test, kids experience competition with their peers starting at a very early age. Competition can be a positive force, encouraging kids to strive to do their best, but it can quickly turn to a negative experience when bad sportsmanship or bullying come into play. So how can we impart to kids a healthy, well-balanced approach to competition?
Technology is a great tool that helps kids practice healthy competition. Most video games that kids enjoy are multi-player, meaning that they play either with or against friends. Games can be a safe space for kids to practice their competitive skills, and even to strengthen their relationships with their friends. They also give kids who aren’t athletically inclined a chance to excel.
As adults, we likely don’t think twice about multi-tasking as we drive our kids to school while simultaneously running through our mental to-do list and drinking our morning coffee. For kids, however, it can be difficult to learn how to do multiple things at once.
Multi-tasking is an inherent part of using technology, even for something as basic as typing. While your fingers are moving, you could also be reading the words on the screen, checking the time, or holding a conversation. As kids use technology over time, they’ll become more adept at having several tasks going on at once, while not sacrificing attention to detail. This will be an incredibly important skill in their future career, especially if they pursue a path that requires regular use of technology.
It’s a common misconception that kids are wasting their time when they spend it on technology. In fact, they are acquiring many skills that will help them be successful in their educational, professional, and personal lives.