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I am reaching the end of my second semester at Crafton Hills College, the end of further beginnings, and the end of my first English class in college. English 010, the tip of the ice burg of deep research, late-night thesis preparation, and maximum stress level. The last task that has been given to me is to write an essay regarding a problem with a solution. In a world full of problems, with very little simple solutions, this essay had me at a dead end. But then, I started to think back at my semester, the things we’ve discussed and read. In the beginning, my professor had drowned us in technology articles; naysayers against technology advancement and futurists foreseeing the future with a need for more technology. As I am in contemplating though, I can’t help notice my 6 yr old nephew glued to youtube going on his 3rd hour, “do you want to go outside?” I ask as he responds with “no thank you”. I then realize right in front of me is a problem and I could join the conversation of technology.   baby with smartphone

Is technology killing our children’s creativity? Coming from a generation that would play outside for hours and think up of imaginative games on the spot, I cannot relate with today’s youth glued to a tablet, iPhone, or laptop hours at a time. I cannot imagine growing up and relying on a tech device for instant entertainment when learning how to ride a bike was a glorified memorable accomplishment. Dr. Teresa Belton of the University of East Anglia argues that; despite many parents going to great lengths to ensure their children are constantly stimulated, boredom can be good for a child’s mind. She says “that a gap in activity encourages children to entertain themselves by thinking creatively, rather than relying on the “quick fix” of TV and tech devices”. Boredom is often associated with solitude; the gathering of thoughts, critical thinking and most importantly the creative processes. It would only make sense that children constantly being exposed to attention-grabbing, noisy, rapid changing images would crowd out time and inclination to explore their environment, develop an inner life or sit with a problem in a creative spirit. Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a specialized psychologist in parenting, would agree that although beneficial in an educational aspect, technology can equally be just as harmful to the development of a child’s mind. Taylor suggests in his article, “How Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus”, that a child’s relationship with technology should be monitored at a young age; he goes on to say, “Whether technology helps or hurts in the development of your children’s thinking depends on what specific technology is used and how and what frequency it is used”. I believe it would be safe to say that monitoring a child’s activity and frequency use of a tech device would be a beneficial solution, for not only a child’s early brain development but also to allow a child learn early on how to critically think and tap into their creative state of mind.

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Aside from creativity and imagination, some may argue that technology should be used as a tool in the classroom. Describing technology as a powerful learning tool and tablets should replace textbooks. Amy Brown, K-12 Education Strategist wrote “There’s no mystery behind the rise of digital textbooks. I’ve heard educators heap praise on the interactive, multimedia content for its ability to engage students in new and interesting ways…”. I can understand educators wanting to keep up with the digital times, and I can understand the want to keep children engaged in school as well as conveniently having information and course material at a students fingertips, but at what cost? The Paper and Packaging Board (P+PB), a commodity checkoff program overseen by the US Department of Agriculture, in a 2016 report titled “Paper and Productive Learning: The Second Annual Back-to-School Report,” stated that nearly two-thirds of K-12 teachers (64%) feel students comprehend information better and are more engaged (63%) when they read on paper. Close to two-thirds (64%) of K-12 teachers reveal their students even respond better to lessons that are based on paper textbooks. When students hold books in their hands, teachers see more hands raised, and that translates into more participation and engagement.

While here in the states these ongoing arguments arise over technology affecting a child’s creative development and whether or not technology should be used in the classroom, developing countries are in need of technology for children. Nowadays our children are growing up in a world where social media, mobile technology, and online communities are fundamental to the way that they communicate, learn and develop and the potential of technology as an educational tool is also steadily growing. Annie Kelly, an award-winning human rights journalist for the Guardian and Observer, writes “40% of Vietnamese children surveyed in rural areas used the internet for educational purposes, with 34% sending school-related text messages. In urban areas, this spiked to 62% and 57% respectively”. While I can agree that children from urban areas are in need of technological devices to keep up with information, and more advanced countries, I can not agree with the overuse of technology at a young age. Unfortunately, technology being good or bad will always be an unending conversation, as well as an unending debate. The real debate though, as to whether or not technology has an impact on a child’s development and creativity will be answered in the near future when our children surrounded in a tech-filled world enter adulthood.

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Works Cited

Should Tablets Replace Textbooks k-12 

https://tablets-textbooks.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001874

Kelly. Technology Can Empower Children

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/technology-empower-children-developing-countries