Don’t Miss the Forest

Any time the iPad is mentioned, mouths start watering and eyes well with tears as they think about the possibilities…myself included.  The iPad has some amazing features (not to mention the iPad2 upgrades) for education and the accessibility of content has opened up enormously.  I’m encouraged by teachers that are blogging about their use of iPads and engaging students in new ways.

However, there is a line we need to be aware of.

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I read a column this morning by Mike Elgan as it flooded #edchat on twitter entitled “Why Every Child in America Needs an iPad.”

Naturally, I was curious, so I clicked on the link and began to read.

And my heart fell.

Granted, the post was on a website called “Cult of Mac,” so I wasn’t terribly surprised about the tone of the post.  The author leads in with,

Everybody’s asking: Are iPads healthy for children?

I’m here to tell you: That’s the wrong question.

The right question is this: Is the iPad a healthy *replacement* for TV? And I believe the answer is a resounding yes.

He then goes on to make good points about content control available and how games, books, and other interactive content can be used.  But, I think he blows right over the questions that arise about constant connectivity.

What happened to tossing kids outside during the weekend to get dirty, run around, and interact with the physical world, rather than sitting inside on their iPad (instead of TV) watching a nature show?  I think there is inherent value in figuring out how to climb a tree in real life than how to climb a tree in the game they’re playing.

Why don’t we teach our kids to use technology in a responsible way and in certain contexts instead of handing them a shiny screen and walking away?  It is our responsibility as teachers (and especially as parents) to teach discretion.  I feel like this post is encouraging parents to disconnect from their kids and allow the iPad to become an “iDad.”

Don’t get me wrong…I would love if someone wanted to give me an iPad, but I would be much more interested in using it in the classroom rather than handing it straight to my kids to replace television.  The potential is much larger than using it to entertain…let’s not miss the forest for the trees on this one.

Note: I am simply a teacher, not a parent…yet.  This is purely my own opinion and in no way do I mean any disrespect to Mr. Elgan or his opinions.

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