by: Jessica Thompson
It’s 2011, and technology is everywhere you look—the internet, GPS technology, smart phones and so much more have all become a huge part of our everyday lives. As parents, it’s our job to help children safely navigate this vast world of technology. But how can we encourage them to use technology in a constructive, educational and/or creative way?
· Create a Website. One reason teachers often include a visual component (such as a poster or diorama) when assigning a big project is because they understand that the creative aspect makes learning a lot more enjoyable. Having your child create a website about something they’ve researched has the same effect: it gives them an opportunity to take something they’ve learned and present it in a creative, visually-appealing way. There are sites that will allow you to build a website for free—but if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of website building, basic HTML code is easy to learn and all you need to experiment with it is a program like Notepad!
· Start Blogging. Blogs are a great outlet for creative expression, and they can be focused on virtually any topic. Unlike a traditional journal, blogs are easy to share with friends and relatives, and doing so provides a great opportunity for kids to receive feedback. (What blogger doesn’t love comments?) For those concerned about privacy, most free blogging services allow you to keep your blog hidden so that it won’t appear in Google or other search engines, meaning that it can only be accessed by those who have the link.
· Educational Video Games. Educational games have been around for a long time. In recent years, however, the “edutainment” market has exploded as educators and developers alike have recognized the great potential of learning that is both interactive and fun. There are plenty of educational games that are backed by research, so why not give it a try?
· Photography. Most of us have used a digital camera, but did you know that there are cheap digital cameras out there designed specifically for kids? The cool thing is that many of these cameras come with software that allows kids to edit the photos, so they can get some experience with computer software as well.
Of course, there are many ways to help our children become proficient with technology. What are some of yours?
Jessica Thompson is a former language arts teacher who currently works for Mentor Interactive, a company that develops educational video games for children. When she's not working or spending time with her family, Jessica enjoys reading, writing, experimental cooking, and playing with the latest technological gadgets. Her husband and two beautiful daughters are her life!