Too young for technology?

Thankfully, the craze of the ‘Genius Baby’ and likeminded technological madness has passed, by and large.  Yet the question of technology for toddlers is still hotly debated [1].  It is widely believed that there is a certain age that is “too young for technology”, but what that age exactly might be depends on the literature you wish to read.

At Mulgrave School (, students as young as 5 years old are extremely adept at negotiating their iPhones, while the 9-year old son of an acquaintance recently launched his own website.  If I was to venture a beginner age for the use of technology in learning [2], I would say that an appropriate age would entirely depend on the technology that a child can actually employ to facilitate a task that he/she has to complete.  When do they start asking questions that you (parent/teacher) cannot answer?   That is a good time to teach them how to search the web and, when the time is ready, to model how to become ‘google-able’.

Passive learning has never been “good” (see posting We don’t need bad education, March 1,2011), and young children’s interaction with technology should always be suitably modeled by parents and teachers.  This would enable them to become successful cyber learners and thoughtful www citizens.  Not only will they learn how to use technology appropriately, but they will establish appropriate online connections, hone good writing skills and become proficient web authors, sharing their work and ideas with an audience far beyond their school.  Now doesn’t that make perfect technological sense?
Eddie de Beer

[2] I (no longer) classify television as ‘educational technology’; mainly as it lacks, in essence, two significant components for meaningful academic engagement: interaction and collaboration.