Monday, 24 June 2013

Is the use of technology dependent on age?

A little while ago, @sharonu wrote a post, asking 'How young is too young for technology?' Her library service has recently acquired some iPads, with the intention of using them in their Storytime session.  Surprisingly, she met with some resistance to this, mainly that it is 'wrong' to have babies playing with technology.

Sharon tagged me in the post, as she knew that we are in our second year of running iTots and that the program has been enormously successful. Since I first blogged about iTots there has been a change in the way that we deliver it.  Rather than a 4 week course for participants, this year we started running it monthly, with a different theme each month.  Some of the content we have covered includes animals, shapes, music and colours.  If possible, the program has been even more successful than last year, with long waiting lists.  In June this year, I added an extra session with an additional 3 iPads in each, so we can include more each month. We're also thinking of opening it up to people bringing their own iPads, listing some of the apps that will be covered so they can come prepared.  That is in the final planning stages.

This brings me back to the title of my post and the question that Sharon also posed - how young is too young for technology?

I personally don't believe that this is a decision we need to be making.  Whether we provide programming with technology or not is moot - it is not going to stop parents from letting their children play with their iPads/smart phones/tablets.  Isn't this the perfect opportunity to show parents and caregivers the benefits of using ICT from a young age and help them make informed decision on downloading age appropriate, fun and educational apps?

I had some resistance to the concept of this program too, as well as using interactive eBooks for Storytimes and can't understand why.  There is still the exposure to stories and words that happens with 'real' books - the story teller is using a different format to tell the story.  We don't try to stop adults reading eBooks, as opposed to 'real' books; we are going out of our way trying to make eBooks more accessible to our communities, so they can borrow them like any other item in the library. Why should we prevent children/toddlers accessing these books?

Funding and resourcing can and will be an issue, but I think these tools and programs should be part of any public library's toolkit. I also think that eventually they (or their equivalent) will be as readily available in libraries as books, DVDs and magazines.