The 21st century has become one of the most faced paced environments with regards to technological and digital advances. Less than 40 years ago, the World Wide Web was invented, and portable computers became available for the public to buy. Now we live in the digital age whereby we can control the heating of our home half way across the world, and have instant communication with anyone, at any time. As advances are rapidly changing every day, digital skills are now imperative for children to develop, and to continue to develop throughout their lives, in order to standout. Worryingly, 37% of the current EU workforce has low digital skills or none at all, and this is one of the qualities that employers consider when hiring candidates. As well as digital technologies being used in the workplace, schools are recognizing the importance with the introduction of laptops, tablets and interactive boards for the children to explore and learn from.
Skills that surround digital competence include; information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation, safety and problem solving. Arguably, problem solving is one of the most diverse skills that can be extended far beyond just a digital context.
Problem Solving and technology
Within our everyday lives, problem solving is a necessity. How many times have you made a plan and something goes wrong, so you have to think on your feet for a solution? Acquiring this skill from a young age means that children can face challenges within their education to help prepare them for later life, and enhance their decision making skills. Having the ability to problem solve has numerous benefits including;
- Teaching them how to avoid potential conflicts
- Strengthening their empathy skills
- Enhancing their independence.
Technology had become an aid within the classroom to support the development of problem solving. Problems and solutions are able to be identified quicker, and aids better analysis for complex situations. Students are also encouraged to think in an innovative way, in order to enhance situations, to therefore prevent it from becoming a problem in the future.
Effects of screen time on children
But an increasing concern that parents are asking is are all these screens good for our children? The recommended daily screen time in Spain is two hours per day, however reality shows that this is not the case, and children can be spending as much as six hours a day looking at some kind of screen.
Despite these concerns, using technology in the classroom transforms pupils learning experiences, and moves them away from boring, outdated methods whereby children become disengaged. As well as this, the most current information is readily available, helping to encourage the inquisitive passion they may have for a topic, and developing the independence to research this further. Furthermore, we now live in an age whereby technology is everywhere, so why not use this for enhancing education? Developing digital skills whilst in education is preparing students for what it will be like in their future careers, as well as potentially putting them ahead of other peers who don’t have access to the same technologies our students do.
Enhancing children’s “Netiquette” and tackling cyber-bullying
As well as learning digital skills, having this within the classroom allows the supervision from teachers to enhance pupil’s digital citizenship skills. Digital citizenship skills are learning not just how to use such equipment, but how to use it in a responsible manner. Communication is one of the main uses for technology, especially for the younger generation. Nowadays, millennials are constantly texting or using social media to communicate with friends, and these platforms are great if they are used correctly. However, cyber bullying is an unfortunate reality which is on the rise, as over the past 5 years, online harassment among minors in Spain has increased by 65%. Schools now have a huge responsibility to try to combat this issue, especially if the technology is being used frequently in the classroom. Steps taken by schools include:
- Clear Anti-bullying guidelines and procedures to deal with the matter
- Lessons to teach “Netiquette” (Internet etiquette)
- Strict policies for mobile phone usage
By setting strict guidelines and fully informing and educating the children before they use these technologies means they understand the expectations and that bullying of any form will not be tolerated.
As technology is rapidly advancing, it is our responsibility as schools to be at the forefront of ensuring our pupils can benefit from the huge advantages gaining digital skills have. Through the excellent management of screen time and cyber-bullying procedures by teachers means that pupils can be ahead of others, and gain the most valuable skills for their futures.