There are many publications out there that will go on and on at you about how childhoods are being ruined and that children’s brains are being turned into mush by the hours of Peppa Pig streaming on YouTube-laden smartphones and tablets. There is also a rise in the amount of children watching streaming services such as Netflix; but is it all bad news? In this week’s blog we take a look at how technology and software are impacting children and what it could mean.
Some of the snapshots that have been put together per age group by a recent report from Ofcom show some quite shocking statistics. For example, while only around 1% of kids aged 3-4 years old already have their own smartphone; 19% of the same age group also have their own tablet. Even more worryingly, 96% of this age group watch TV (on a tv set) for at least 14h per week. 52% go online, for nearly 9h per week.
And as the age groups go up, the statistics get stronger: 42% of 5-7 year olds have their own tablet and 82% of them go online for around 9.5h per week; 93% of 8-11 year olds go online for around 13.5h per week and then staggeringly; 99% of 12-15 year olds go online for at least 20.5h per week. These are some eye-opening statistics of technology and internet usage by children under the age of 15 years old.
Whilst the same report found that average amount of time spent viewing a television set is going down, half of 5-15 year olds are now watching “Over The Top” (OTT) TV services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV.
So how can this be seen in a positive light? Previously there have been a number of different blogs and articles written around the negative impacts that too much screentime can have on young children and there are also the obvious dangers of not surfing the internet safely but there are many positive factors that learning about technology and having it become second nature at a young age can have.
Bill Gates and the Microsoft Vision
At one point the world’s wealthiest man, Bill Gates made a vision when talking about his time building Microsoft:
“We had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home. It’s been amazing to see so much of that dream become a reality and touch so many lives. I never imagined what an incredible and important company would spring from those original ideas.”
With this in mind, Bill and Paul Allen; his co-founder, set about building their software company. They even took the steps to introduce computers into schools for free; as long as the children in those schools were learning how to use a Microsoft computer. And as you are probably aware, Bill and Paul’s company dominated the world of the Desktop for many years because they had introduced their products into children’s lives so that they would grow up with a pre-set preference for Microsoft’s computers.
So how does this relate back to where we are today? It’s quite simple, children that learn to use a smartphone, tablet, computer or laptop from such a young age are prepared to take up previously difficult-to-enter careers such as computing, software development and science; an industry labelled as STEM. With the barrier of learning to use hardware already removed by developing as a child with the technology that we have; children are now starting younger to learn how to code and develop their own software.
How STEM is helping
Even organisations such as STEM.org are helping children get into tech-related careers indirectly by giving the knowledge and tools to teachers in order to help them pass on the knowledge more efficiently to children. They are currently running a Computer Science Accelerator Programme which is aiming to give Computing and Computer Science secondary school teachers the chance to earn CPD points by completing post-graduate qualifications to help better teach tech-related classes to their students.
In addition to this, they also offer a huge library of resources on their website aimed at different age levels to help spur children into STEM related career paths; or even just to help them develop their hobbies for computing, coding and other tech related topic areas.
The bigger picture
The impact that this will have? We will begin developing new talent in STEM that will help us develop and blossom with each generation that comes. Using a footballing example, the project currently in place at the Footballing centre of excellence at St George’s Park is helping to develop the next generation of world-class English footballers. Thus far, the project; whose aim is to win the 2022 world cup has already achieved major successes at U17, U20 and U21 level along with the England senior team almost bringing football home and reaching the Semi Finals of the 2018 world cup. The introduction of the centre of excellence has created a perfect environment for younger generations to progress and build on what they have already learnt and this is what will eventually start to happen with kids going into tech, software and science related courses; and careers; in years to come.
Over at Kaleida we want to help encourage and grow the next generation of software development talent. We take great pride in developing bespoke software for businesses in and around Manchester and this isn’t possible without having exceptional people on board. If you think this might be of interest to you and is something you want to be a part of, please get in touch today.