For many parents, it is a question of faith: Should children be allowed to entertain themselves using smartphones or tablets? I am convinced that they should.
And this is not because I feel that children occupy themselves too little with digital devices, but because at this moment in time they use digital devices almost exclusively as a kind of modern Game Boy. But they do not do this out of spite or because they are addicted to games. Instead, it is because nobody gives children alternative activities — not even parents and teachers.
We are often the first to put craft materials in front of our children and delight in their creativity. But digital arts and crafts are something that we do not do. Why? Because we simply do not know-how. We think that flipbooks are brilliant, but we are not imaginative enough to create stop-motion videos. I often feel that we are the first to sit down with our children and create a collage from old photos for school, but that we are the last to try this out digitally.
When parents think about children with tablets, many picture them immersed in themselves and sitting in a corner, mentally “checked out.” And when we take the device away from them again, they sulk and find any other form of entertainment boring and silly. Why?
Because we do not concern ourselves enough with what our children do with the devices as we do not show them any creative alternatives. Create your own app with Hopscotch, shoot a short film with Lego Movie Maker, learn how to program with Scratch or convert your own laptop into a piano with Makey Makey: These are all things that we could do together with our children — with the emphasis on the word “together.” We go on trips with our children, do homework together, play board games together and watch movies together. Why is it, then, that we have so little ambition or feel no need to also explore and experience the digital world with our children?
It is only when we do this that the images we have in our heads will change. Only then will we stop simply seeing the risks of the digital world, but also see the opportunities that it presents — both for ourselves and for our children. We will no longer be skeptical about tablets, smartphones, and computers, and will consciously start to give these devices to our children and curiously watch what they do with them.
I am convinced that we will start to be proud of the digital skills that our children have. We will encourage them to experiment further, to learn more and to discover the digital world in a creative way, whether in school or at home.
Verena Pausder is the founder of the company Fox & Sheep in Berlin, managing director of the nationwide HABA Digital workshops and initiator of StartupTeens. Follow us on Twitter (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital), Instagram (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital) and LinkedIn (Porsche Digital Lab Berlin, Porsche Digital) for more.