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Tech That's Actually Good for Your Kids

There has been plenty of negative press about the dangers of “too much tech too soon” in the hands of kids, and much of it is worthy of concern. However, it’s going to be here to stay, and we’re here to direct that technology to the best use and for the best impact on our next generation.

At first, limited tech was available to students, and only after some convincing of school administrations that it had a place in the classroom. What a difference a day makes, as teachers are now full-on embracing technology tools like Chromebooks, SmartBoards, and beyond. In fact, a recent survey done by edtech publication The Journal shows that technology is seen as a positive partner in equipping teachers to help students learn.

Some of the feedback from the Teaching With Technology survey included:

  • 75 percent of teachers felt tech had a mostly or extremely positive impact on education

  • Nearly 83 percent said digital tech has positively affected their ability to teach

  • 81 percent of teachers also favored schools providing devices to students; just 14 percent were in favor of students bringing their own devices

This makes what ReviveIT does so critical, as we have created partnerships with schools across the country, particularly charter schools, where the funding for their budgets demand the most efficient use of every dollar. Particularly when students are predominantly from lower-income backgrounds, the only time they may have to learn, use and apply technology may be during school hours.

Why does it matter?

A collaborative report from America’s Promise Alliance, the Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program, and the Council of Chief State School Officers reveals that it’s a matter of equity. Simply put, technology boosts equity among schools, and helps students in areas of need perform as well on a level playing field with their counterparts in other districts.

Here are a few keys to how technology bridges the gap:

  • Location: Where students live can impact their access to education, and in places like Maine or South Carolina, rural students tend to have higher rates of absenteeism. Technology brings the classroom to them with remote connections to allow them to stay current on their studies.

  • Online resources: Homework, research and other resources are always available, and “the dog ate my homework” becomes a thing of the past.

  • Tracking student performance: As students use tech in the classroom, their work and performance can be better monitored, tracked and assessed for any areas where behavior or performance can be improved.

  • Skills training: In its most practical sense, technology training is something every job — from entry-level first jobs to career-level positions — will require of anyone. Students who don’t have current experience with technology will be overlooked for employment, opening the possibility of poverty and underemployment in their future.

Additionally, in everyday use, technology in the hands of kids doesn’t have to be all negative. Call it the tech equivalent of hiding peas in the mashed potatoes to get your kids to eat healthier. So if your youngster is dying for a smart device it may be time to reconsider, but limit the apps to those that they will enjoy while also learning.

The list of learning apps is fairly long, and always growing, but if you can download a few that will entertain, engage, and educate, they may make your student forget they’re not spending all their time gaming, or on Instagram or Snapchat. Here are just a few we loved that also garnered particular praise from teachers and parents:

  • Kahoot! This is game-based, so it’s already fun. Teachers can also engage their classes by creating games for students that may apply to something they’re studying in class. Group engagement is also promoted in how these games are structured, so they aren’t playing in isolation, but with other classmates. Students can also try and outdo their previous scores, which promotes goal setting and achieving more.

  • Matific: Games and worksheets to help kids get a deeper understanding of math concepts. Here too students can try to improve their personal bests with other games that increase the difficulty level.

  • Go Noodle: One of the most disturbing trends we’ve heard about technology is that it’s ruined the summer vacation days of playing endlessly outside. Lately kids are opting to use their downtime to stay indoors and either game all day or snap their friends. Go Noodle features prerecorded videos that are designed to get kids moving and it can be used anywhere, and with anyone — so parents or other siblings can join in.

  • Book Creator: Creativity is the secret sauce to any learning, and as its name suggests, Book Creator allows users to make ebooks on their iPads. Content, graphics, layout — it’s all up to the creator. As they become more savvy, students can also use this as a way to organize and present reports, helping them to develop critical as well as creative thinking.

  • DuoLingo: Learning a second (or third, or fourth) language has been proven to help students learn more in general, and younger minds pick up new languages far more quickly. This app uses games to help develop fluency in more than 20 different languages (and growing according to the app's creators).

It’s typical that the bad news on anything is what makes for the most dramatic headlines. While it’s smart to pay attention to them, don’t allow what negatives are out there on kids and tech to detract you from seeing the value. For every negative effect, we know of positive effects we’ve seen first hand from customers, educators and students that reaffirm our commitment to providing tech to everyone. Educate yourself and ask those who are well-versed in the software AND the hardware of technology to direct your decisions. Your kid’s future success literally depends on it.

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