Sebastian Payne

Technology is reshaping childhood — should we be worried?

Are children utterly obsessed with technology? Yes, is the obvious answer to that question, but debate about whether is it a good or bad thing rages around forums such as Mumsnet. Many believe the innocence of childhood has been ruined by unfettered access to the Internet, videos, games and goodness knows what else. Others instead think that every generation of children is different and parents have to move with the times instead of yearning for their own past.

I have to admit I’m a little biased. I built my first computer when I was six and spent most of my teenage years faffing around with websites and attempting to code. No doubt I missed out on the joyful pursuits of kicking a football but I loved every minute of it. Now, I use technology almost exclusively for work purposes and spend little time playing with with tech for its own sake. Maybe I overloaded when I was a child? Or maybe it’s growing up?

It’s not just at home that computers (which includes tablets, watches, phones) have become one with children. Schools are now more akin to Apple Stores than quiet chambers of learning. In the Spectator’s independent schools supplement last year, I looked at how technology is changing the classroom and the three distinct phases of its evolution:

‘The third phase is the one schools have entered today. Computers and curriculum now have a symbiotic relationship. Thanks to Moore’s law, which states that the power of computing doubles approximately every two years, pupils now hold more technological power in their hands than an entire school had 30 years ago.

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