When it comes to technology, parents are often in one of two camps: They embrace it – or they’re skeptical of it. Especially when it comes to young kids.
However, Michael Medvinsky, lower school technology integrator and dean of pedagogy and innovation at University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, says parents can find a middle ground – and reap the benefits of technology in early childhood education and beyond.
“We think a lot about how much time our kids are spending on a screen,” Medvinsky explains, “but what we really need to think about is what are the learners doing on the screen.”
Make it purposeful
Time spent with technology should be creative, he says. Some technology amplifies creativity, such as making a video, coding a robot or creating artwork.
Other technology, he says, like passively watching videos, does nothing to spark creativity and innovation.
“We need to continually think about the creative outlet we are providing to our kids. They can either be content curators or content creators,” Medvinsky says. “We need to engage learners in activities that foster creativity and expression.”
Model the behavior
“I showcase work I’ve done and I show my kids,” he says.
In his house, the family plays “musical phones.” They all switch phones at random times, which gives him a chance to look at what his kids are doing with their devices, but also for them to see what he does.
Enhance classroom learning
Medvinsky says if kids are learning to use technology in school, parents can encourage them to use that education to engage their own interests.
He has seen kids create videos to teach other people how to make a portal in Minecraft, create movies to retell stories and more.
Creating and sharing not only gives the students the opportunity to explore the process, but also solicit feedback and learn from it.
“We need to engage our youngest learners so they become adults who use technology well. Technology is always going to advance, and we need to make sure we, as parents, are advancing along with technology,” Medvinsky says.