Most kids today live in a world totally unlike the one their parents knew growing up. In many cases, kids are more comfortable with navigating technology than their parents or grandparents. That’s a good thing, as they’ll need those skills to succeed later in life—but it can also have its downsides, impacting social skills and even safety.
Technology isn’t going away, and everyone needs to play a role in teaching kids how to use technology and how to stay safe online. Tech experts can act as role models and grow their leadership skills by helping the next generation to master technology tools and best practices for safety. There is a need for people who work with technology to share what they know and teach those skills to others. But why is it important for people in the tech industry to get involved? Let’s take a look.
Not all Kids Have Access to Tech
While it might seem like all the kids you know never get off their phones or tablets, the reality is that some kids in the United States still don’t have access to the tech tools they need. In one survey, 95% of participants believed that all students in their communities needed access to computers for academic success. On top of that, 91% believed that the government should do its best to provide that access.
In low-income areas, schools are strapped for resources, and the public schools are often unable to provide the technology access their students need. Many of these students can’t even get access at home. That’s where mentors and resources from the tech industry can come in, filling in the gaps and helping get kids the access they need to succeed. Not only that, but tech experts can fill in knowledge teachers often lack.
Why Teaching Tech is Important
Young people can be very good at teaching themselves how to use tech, so why should adults step in? Because figuring things out on your own doesn’t teach you why what you’re doing works or any etiquette that may be involved.
Kids need to be taught not only how to code and how to use technology to help them learn and reach their ultimate goals, but how to use social media and communicate appropriately online. Both individuals and companies must understand how powerful social media is, and how to utilize it well. Kids need to be aware, and learn how to positively communicate and interact online.
Safety is an Issue
As adults, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to protect ourselves against threats. Unfortunately, kids often don’t have the same filters and don’t understand how to keep themselves safe, especially online. Cyberbullying is on the rise, and 70% of kids in grades K -12 have observed it taking place. Bullying can have a long-term impact on kids’ well-being. We can’t rely on parents to inform and teach kids how to behave. It would be great if technology experts could be role models and teach kids about appropriate online behavior.
Learning with Role Models
People in the tech industry can make a big impact in kids’ lives both by actively teaching them the tech skills they need and by acting as role models. Many kids don’t know why investing time in STEM education is worthwhile, until they meet people actually working in those fields. Girls especially need encouragement throughout their school lives, since they are culturally expected not to follow STEM career paths—and often lose interest in these subjects by the end of high school.
Taking a Blended Learning Approach
If you want to help kids become better with technology, you can’t just let the technology do all the teaching. Working with kids in person and letting them explore technology on their own can be very effective. By 2019, researchers predict that half of all classes will be online. Kids will need someone they can look up to and get help with technology. Kids will also be challenged to develop their internal skills, and be able to problem solve and use critical thinking skills on their own. The new advances in education and technology will enhance blended learning, and allow it to be effective.
Tech Experts Need to Step In
Kids need to be confident in their tech skills by the time they leave school. Sometimes, good role models don’t have to be parents or teachers—they can be people who are willing to share their time and expertise to inspire. Tech experts need to step in and help the next generation become responsible, tech-savvy nerds. If you love technology, and are informed in the field, feel free to reach out and see where you can help educate the new generations.