The Effects of Technology on Your Gifted Child
In today’s world, technology is a fact of life. In some way or other, it affects almost every aspect of society. This is especially true for our gifted and talented children. They live with technology – at home and at school, during learning times and playing times, alone or with friends.
The future of education will be technology-based. It’s in today’s classrooms and in virtual environments. It is the medium for immediate and widespread social interaction. However, the pervasiveness of technology begs an important question.
Is technology good or bad for gifted children? Does it interfere with learning or does it spur learning and growth? How do gifted children feel about technology? What should parents do to in the face of this constant exposure to technology in their child’s life?
Young people are immersed in smart phone technology
Young people spend a lot of time with technology, especially with entertainment media. Children and young adults aged 8-18 spend over 7-1/2 hours a day on entertainment media. Teenagers spend almost two hours sending text messages to each other.
70% of gifted and talented children use cell and surf the internet. While some gifted children use their smart phones to check the news, most of them use phones for music, social media, or talking with friends.
25% of gifted children spend 4-7 hours a day with technological devices, and over a third of them use social media at least a few days a week if not more.
Since technology is so prevalent for the gifted and talented, how is it being used for their benefit? What are the ways technology can help gifted children?
Technology offers differentiation for gifted students
Gifted students have more access to differentiated content than ever before. The internet provides a myriad of websites, educational content, audio and video files, and online libraries that provide learning opportunities and differentiation for gifted students.
Students can follow their special interests in music, art, or particular academic area and go beyond typical classroom subject presentation to extend their opportunities of discovery and creativity.
Gifted students can also be given differentiated assignments, with tasks geared to their abilities, learning style and pace, and preferred response method. Gifted students often combine areas of study and create a response project that simulates real-world problems involving multiple disciplines.
Benefits include sharpening of skills
The use of technology by gifted students has been studied for many years. The research has concluded that video gaming technology helps gifted students with hand to eye coordination, faster response times, and increases in spatial visualization.
Research also found that surgeons who played video games were more skilled at surgical procedures like suturing. Gifted students with exposure to technology like gaming had more developed motor skills and made excellent physiotherapists and other medical professionals.
Gifted students who used technology were more confident and more likely to seek higher levels of challenge and more difficult content. They were better at problem solving and had higher cognitive development. They also learned new ways to learn.
Technology helped children with ADHD with the ability to focus. Children learned social skills from games and simulations. They became better decision-makers.
Research has also shown that the use of technology like gaming helped with pain management by taking children’s minds off the pain and/or discomfort.
Gifted students learn more about themselves
The internet and other electronic media present opportunities for gifted children to learn more about themselves. They can pursue areas of special interest, discover their strengths, and create friendships with other students who share their interests and abilities.
Students in research studies have said they can express themselves better on the internet. They feel that technology helps them find and share a greater level of detail in their areas of interest. Technology makes it possible to develop a more meaningful dialogue on shared interests with friends.
Too much time spent on gaming technologies can have negative consequences. It can lead to decreased academic performance. It can lead to problems with interpersonal relationships. It can even lead to an increase in negative behaviors like over-aggressiveness.
Technology can be misused in the classroom. Teachers may not be good at using it. Technical troubles take up time. Not all students have the same skill levels. If not managed correctly can lead to an obsession with gaming.
Gifted children – like all children – can get lost in the vastness of the internet. It is easy for them to go down the wrong paths and land on the wrong websites, play games that are inappropriate for their age, or get the wrong impressions from TV or movies.
Individual attention and focus on electronics can have a negative impact on family life. To prevent this, some families ban electronics completely during the week. Others limit the use and time spent on electronics devices to a minimum.
Activities should fit your gifted child’s needs for growth
Some children are very active and love to move around and enjoy interacting with others. They share experiences and develop socially with chosen friends.
These children can afford to spend more time on the computer. They can be encouraged to explore educational opportunities to expand their knowledge and develop their interests.
Other children, however, are already spending a lot of time with smart phones and computers. They are the ones who need to be encouraged to spend more face-to-face family time and more time with peer groups.
Parents should determine which areas of development are needed for their gifted children. They should identify strengths, abilities and interests as well as weaknesses and opportunities for growth and development.
Parents need to monitor TV, texting, social media
Trust is needed, but so is common sense and interest in child’s welfare. Technology is a fact of life. Gifted students will be influenced by it one way or another. The future of education will no doubt include more technological advancements in the field of education. So parents need to come up to speed on technology and find ways to influence its direction, including school programs.
Computers are good sources of learning. Smart phones are ways of learning and communicating. TV and electronic games are good forms of relaxation and recreation, and can be sources of education.
However, as good as these choices are, there is the danger of misuse and misdirection. Parents want their gifted children to fully develop their special skills and abilities, learn effectively, make friends, and maintain family values.
Parents need to monitor their children’s electronic involvement. This includes social media access, smart phone talking and texting, appropriate web sites and TV shows, even music and lyrics.
The most important thing for parents concerning technology and their children is to teach them how to be their own filters. Teach them how to apply the right values to the methods and media they choose.
Gifted children tend to learn faster than they develop good judgement. Parents can help them to manage themselves. Parents can monitor and set guidelines and hopefully the children will eventually internalize these standards.
What do gifted children say they want?
When asked about technology, the answers given by gifted children are very illuminating. They say they cannot dream of a life without it. They say technology makes their lives easier.
They say with technology they can communicate with more people in a shorter amount of time. They can express themselves better. They feel that technological devices contribute to their education.
Gifted children say they don’t like to be interfered with when they are on a technological device, expressing feelings of nervousness.
Results show that as technological device use habits, most of the gifted children have stated that “they cannot dream of a life without technology.” They have also expressed that they can express themselves better on the Internet.
They say they are sad or angry when there is no internet connection.
Conclusion: technology is good but it shouldn’t be left alone
Gifted students love technology – at home or in school. Technological devices will continue to proliferate in both places. It provides the potential for personal, intellectual, social and emotional growth. It also has its dangers. Parents will make technology work for their children with total awareness, involvement, and support.
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