Grandparents, grandkids and the support of technology 

kids don't play traditional games

Do you believe it is important for your grandchildren to learn about and participate in technology? It is an interesting debate.

On one side you have the parents and grandparents who love the idea of children learning from outdoor experiences and person-to-person moments. They remember vividly their own childhoods and wish for their grandchildren to be able to live a youth of innocence and tactile joy.

On the other side you have the believers in technology, evolution and change, those that think that this new generation of children will be part of a technologically futuristic era so we had better equip them early with the skills and capability they will require.

Which are you?

My parents sit in the second camp. In fact I must admit, they can be, at times, more progressive than people at my age of 40.

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For years and years they have encouraged all their grandkids to be avid and enthusiastic explorers of technology. When the iPad 2.0 was released, they bought each of their 8 grandkids one for Christmas, much to the surprise of all. And they have been known to arrive with devices of other kinds too.

We looked at them when the iPads arrived, wondering what their motive was for doing so and my sixty-something dad announced that he believed that every child today needs to think about their lives in a very futuristic sense embracing the technologies available to them from a very early age so they can process in “new generation” ways.

It might sounds very lavish, and at the time it certainly felt so, but what they did back then for a group of children aged from 2-12 potentially changed their lives and helped them form flexible and tech-driven ways of learning.

When their grandparents gave them a tool on which they could learn, explore and communicate every hour of the day they also gave them permission to think differently to any of the grown-ups in the house. They gave them permission to explore how technology fit in with being a kid. And the kids responded with gusto.

It has been an amazing turning point for our family, and one which has moulded many other decisions about how we introduce technology to the youngsters in our life. We are highly progressive, as you would likely imagine if you have come to know me through Starts at 60. We believe that every child’s opportunities in life will come from exposing them to different thoughts and ideas that they might choose to learn from and embrace.

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In contrast, a couple of years ago, my daughter’s year three class was handing out iPads to the students and invited all the parents in to a learning night. It was confronting to me to understand that there was parents who were outright afraid or uncomfortable about how to manage their child having free access to an ipad in and out of school.

One asked “If I don’t want my child using the iPad can I leave it at school?,” to which they were told a firm “no”. The event descended into quite an unhappy discussion about how parents were worried about their children knowing more about the technology than they know about how to manage it.

Now from where I sit, that is just technology and life. People like myself, at 40, have to admit that there are times when the younger people will know more and embrace it. There are times that I call my kids to help on a technical task for Starts at 60 even!

But it is demonstrative of the wide array of societal change that we have to understand and believe is beneficial to embrace technology at an early age for our youngsters.

I must admit having an ulterior motive from time to time, and I think my dad, the instigator of the iPads enjoys the same joy. We love it when technology offers a little occasional reprieve, and welcome it at the end of a dinner out at that time when kids get restless and want to go home, enabling us to stay peacefully a few minutes longer together.

Technology – do you believe it is important or are you uncomfortable with it in your grandchildrens’ lives?