In Cyber Safety, The Digital World

How Tech Savvy Are You?

By definition, being tech savvy means that a person is fairly proficient in using modern high tech devices. From tablets to laptops and smartphones, today’s youth have become inseparable from their gadgets. The widespread use of social media sites to connect with family and friends, and the availability of hundreds of websites for educational and entertainment purposes demands taking a look into what being tech savvy actually entails.

Being technology savvy gives young people an edge in getting ahead in modern society. Most kids are capable of learning tech skills at a very young age, as many primary and secondary schools incorporate tech training in their curricula. Moreover, high school tech training programs are designed to help teens establish their future careers.

What Does Tech Savvy Mean?

Many young people would define tech savvy as being good at texting, using social media and online gaming. Tech savviness entails much more than that. The word “savvy” alone means to have comprehensive and practical knowledge on a subject. In other words, it means knowing the tips and tricks of a trade. A good way to define “tech savvy”, therefore, would be having the ability and skill to use technology in a productive and effective way. For the average young person, this can include:

  • Developing computer skills that will give him or her an edge in establishing a good career
  • Learning Internet skills that enables him or her to find, evaluate, and use online data to meet his or her needs. Such skills may include sending and receiving emails, use of search engines to research data, creating web pages, graphic design, uploading and downloading files, and online networking.
  • Learning how to use a smart phone for online and verbal communication.
  • Learning how to use a tablet or other high tech devices.

Understanding the meaning of being tech savvy gives parents a better idea of how to help their kids develop these skills. It’s not necessary for parents to invest tons of money in high tech devices for their kids to develop tech skills. Many young children cannot even handle the responsibility of owning a tablet, a computer or a smart phone of their own. As most schools incorporate tech training in their curricula, kids have the opportunity to learn technological skills in a supervised, structured environment.

Advantages of Tech Training

Greater productivity is one of the greatest advantages of developing tech skills. By creating task lists on their laptops and cell phones, young businessmen and women can stay on top of their busy schedules so as not to forget important appointments or dates. Meetings and conferences with colleagues or clients can easily be held online to avoid wasting time and money in travel.

By learning tech skills, children and teens can receive their education online, consumers can shop online, and people can view news online to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world. Being tech savvy opens the door for people to take advantage of all that computers have to offer. Being tech savvy also provides young people with a myriad of job opportunities in different fields and sectors.

Using Technology in the Classroom

When used correctly, technology can be of tremendous value in the classroom. Dominic Norrish, Director of Technology at United Learning, a group of UK independent schools, points out five areas in which technology can play an important role to a student’s academic studies:

  • Boosting motivation to learn
  • Empowering self-learning efforts by giving kids greater control over their studies
  • Providing greater access to tools that can enhance studies
  • Educating kids in how to use high tech gadgets effectively
  • Demonstrating the right way to incorporate technology into the classroom. Technology should not be used to replace learning methods that are already effective, but rather to modify or redefine learning techniques in order to enhance the learning process.

By experimenting with various means of using technology in the classroom, teachers can come up with effective strategies that will benefit students and faculty alike. More than likely, these strategies will combine traditional learning with technology to get the best results.

Early Learning and Technology

Technology is an extensive yet fascinating field for young children to delve in. When applying tech training, education technology expert Eric Smith suggests that teachers keep these three aspects in mind:

  • Learning how to use technology
  • Learning with technology and
  • Learning about technology

1. Use of technology: With the advent of the iPad and its touch screen capabilities, young children can easily use a computerized device without a mouse. This was a giant leap forward for the use of technology in the early learning classroom. Through the use of touch screen tablets and laptops, pre-school children can easily learn the reading, math and science concepts on their early learning curriculum.

2. Learning with technology: It’s no secret that children learn much faster with technology than without. Computers and tablets allow kids to learn at their own pace in varied ways. Some kids learn faster with tutorials while others prefer videos, pictures or games. By using computers, teachers can personalize their students’ academic curricula to provide them with greater motivation to learn.

3. Learning about technology: Learning about technology is just as important as using technology as a learning tool. It’s good for children to have a general understanding of how technology is evolving and changing the world in which they live.

As children transition into tweens and teens, they will gain a greater perspective of the role technology plays in their lives and will play in their future. Although there are many adults in society today who have little understanding of being tech savvy, the next generation cannot afford to be ignorant of the technological advances to come.

The Risks of Teaching Technology to Young Children

Having a proper balance between technology and traditional education is a must for young children. Too much technology poses the risk of kids missing out on proper childhood development. According to Ofcom – the communications regulator system for the UK – tablets are readily available to approximately four out of every 10 children in the country, aged 3-4 years old. Over a third of UK children between the ages of 5 and 15 own their own tablet. These figures indicate the value parents give to these devices.

Psychiatrist Richard Graham, founder of the first Technology Addiction Service in the UK, warns parents of the dangers of giving young children full reign in the use of electronic devices. He advises parents to set boundaries on tablet and computer use so that it doesn’t become the norm in a child’s life.

As tech savvy children become addicted to digital devices, they lose interest in outdoor activities and traditional play. Kids learn communication and social skills by interacting with others their age. Fresh air and exercise also helps kids develop stronger, healthier bodies and hone their motor skills. Too much computer or tablet time can adversely affect a child’s physical development, resulting in weight gain and physical problems.

In her book The Big Disconnect, clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair shared her view of early learning and technology in an online post titled “Tech is killing childhood.” According to Dr. Steiner-Adiar, “much of child development at this age is driven by children’s desire to connect with each other and the exciting world beyond – to fit in, stand out, and to look older, smarter, cooler. If the computer has become the new playground for our children, then we must ask what they are playing, who they are meeting there, and what they are learning.”

Can Being Tech-Savvy Protect Kids from Cyber Bullying?

In a relatively new study, researchers from the Internet Institute at the University of Oxford discovered that letting young people regulate their own Internet usage for personal, academic or social reasons can help them become more resilient to cyber bullying attacks. Having a good understanding of digital technology can also help young people develop greater resistance to the negativity they face online.

Today’s youth need resilience for their personal growth and development. While guiding them to become tech savvy users, it is still absolutely necessary for parents and teachers to help foster constructive online behavior. Supportive parents play an important role in helping young people use the Internet wisely while they learn new skills, express their views and develop social ties.

In lieu of these findings, researchers believe society should focus more on the positive aspects of the Internet as opposed to its many risks. It may not be possible for society to control every aspect of Internet usage, but it can arm our younger generation with the skills they require to make better decisions concerning their online lives. An effective, constructive and safe online experience is growing more and more reliable on being tech savvy, something both families and schools can collaboratively work on enhancing and monitoring.

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