You are not about to read an article about the evils of technology or how electronics are not meant for children. Technology is good, and its use can open a new world of education, abilities and friendships for your child. However, like everything in your child’s life, its proper use is best modeled by the parent.
Technology Equals Success
We live in a technological world. Your kindergartner probably uses nicer tablets at school than you have at work. A study conducted at Michigan State University shows that the proper use of technology increases future academic success. Of course, “proper” is the key term here. The ability to research online and find educational resources, such as academic databases like JSTOR, are positively correlated to academic success. On the flip side, texting and instant messaging may not have the same effect. As a parent, look at your digital activities and determine if you are demonstrating good technology-related educational behaviors or poor ones.
The New Literacy
If you still have an old-school flip phone, it is time for an upgrade. Service providers such as T-Mobile offer great deals on the latest smartphones and tablets—specifically, look for a model that can accommodate literary apps. Another study from the Harvard Graduate School of Education shows that children from families that use technology for communication reasons have better self-perception of their language skills. They are better at integrating language skills and the written word. Unfortunately, an economic divide exists, because you need to have the gadget to get the benefits. Happily, many devices are reasonably priced with monthly payment plans.
Collaboration and Retention
A study published in the Journal of Computers and Education found that students with Facebook friends from the same university are more likely to stay in school and succeed than those with few friends or friends outside of the university. It is called a “social” network for a reason—Facebook allows students the opportunity to vent, collaborate or joke with peers. Sites such as Goodreads that promote reading and literacy are often integrated with Facebook. Within reason, share your Facebook activities with your young ones to help them learn positive behaviors. Let your children participate in social networking by sharing the cute puppy meme or the animated GIF of the kitten falling asleep. Of course, if you do not use Facebook, it is time to start.
Online Friendships Are Real
What happens on Facebook is just as valid as what happens in real life. An article published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking explains that social network friends are real friends, and they can help your child navigate the stress of everyday life. However, parents must be aware that just like Facebook friends, Facebook enemies are real enemies and can be very hurtful. Like teaching your kids to play nice in the sandbox, you need to educate them on proper Internet behavior. You are not monitoring their Facebook page so you can shut it down if you do not like something; rather, you are keeping an eye on it as an opening for discussion.