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Why kids know more about technology than you, and what you can do about it

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Since the dawn of time, kids haven’t come with manuals. But, at some point, a parent’s instinct kicks in, and we work out how to keep them warm, fed and healthy, to the best of our available resources.

Yet, ever since technology came along, for the first time in history, our children know more than us about something than their parents. Just stop and think about that for a moment. It’s a crazy phenomenon.

Kids with devices

Today’s kids are intuitively able to use every device, app, game and social network handed to them. Just give a tablet or a smart phone to a toddler and watch what happens.

It is not uncommon for babies and toddlers to be passed phones and tablets just as early as they are passed their first toys.

While some parents may swear they would never hand a baby a smart device, the reality is very different. Devices are being dished out to children in the doctor’s waiting room, in the supermarket queue, on a long drive and in restaurants by desperate parents who are looking for a bit of light reprieve.

Then, all over Australia, computer labs at schools are being closed in favour of tablets and Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) being a part of all day, everyday learning.

Besides, most children really want to get their hands on your mobile phone, tablet or computer. Because, from a very young age, children love emulating absolutely anything their parents or older siblings do – pushing a trolley, mowing the lawn, gardening, playing ‘kitchens’. Now, that real-life game play also includes using a phone, tablet or computer.

The growing knowledge gap

While parents are busy trying to be ‘good parents’, or ‘good teachers’, the technological gap between parents, teachers and kids is growing exponentially.

We expect the government and the education system to do something about it, but the curricula simply cannot keep up with the speed at which technology is changing.

In fact, the education system is having a hard enough time educating kids for the jobs they will have. Why? Because the future jobs of the latest generation of children don’t exist yet.

Face it. The job you have right now, the company that you are building, probably did not exist when you were at school. It’s going to be much more of the same in the future.

Parents, kids and technology

The fact is, kids desperately need their parents to understand the technology they are using right now. Kids need their parents to understand the possibilities that abound in terms of its practical applications and the potential issues that can arise – such as online bullying.

Kids need their parents to embrace technology themselves, to be able to guide them, and make sense of the technological world they are growing up in.

Love it or hate it, life is not the same as it once was – technology has turned every aspect of our lives on its head.

For instance, when was the last time you went into the bank to get cash out? Have you bought anything online in the past month? Do you happen to socialise online from time to time? How did you book your last holiday? Chances are, you did many things online.

How do you go looking for information? I doubt you’re popping into your local library, or I bet that the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s gathering dust on the bookshelf (if they haven’t already been donated to the Salvos).

Given the digital world we in, there is no point in fighting technology or ignoring it. It’s not going away, and the sooner you embrace it, the better off you and your family will be.

To put it bluntly, digital literacy is the new financial literacy. If your child (and you) are not digitally literate, they are at a distinct disadvantage, and their employability, ability to start and grow a business or generally have options in life are severely diminished.

Even if you’re still not convinced that you can indeed learn to love technology, I’m hoping that you care as much about your child and their future as I do and that you’ll give this technology thing your best shot for their sake.

Yvette Adams is a serial entrepreneur having started 6 businesses from scratch, the first a newspaper when she was just 17. She has since sold two of these businesses.

She is the founder and co-owner of The Creative Collective, a creative agency specialising in digital marketing; the founder and owner of spin off company The Training Collective, a training organisation dedicated to training people in online success topics in online and in person formats and awardshub.com, an online portal for business owners wanting to find business awards they may be able to enter, and to gain assistance in the preparation of their submissions.

Yvette was the ICT Woman of the Year at the iAwards in 2013, is a columnist for Marketing Magazine & Yahoo 7’s Mouths of Mums, and is a regular guest on ABC’s radio show #tweetpostpublish which airs every Monday at 4:45pm.

She has recently published her second book, No Kidding – Why our Kids Know More About Us Than Technology and What we Need to Do about.

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