How to use Technology to Engage Kids

Recently, we explored the question of how much is enough screen time. Through this discussion, we learned that adults should play an active role in children’s screen use so that we can guide and support them as they encounter new ideas and technologies. Using technology with children provides us with opportunities to engage with them in real-world contexts as they experiment with technology and view media.

Here are FOUR suggestions for using technology to engage children:

  1. Observe kids as they use technology. Kids quickly develop preferences for games, shows, and websites, which provides the perfect entry point for adults. When children are using technology or viewing media, adults should ask them to tell us about what they’re doing as we observe them using the media.
  2. Use technology with kids. We can take this engagement to a deeper level when we participate in media activities with children. Are they connecting worlds on Minecraft? If so, join in. Are they streaming their favorite youtube channel? Become a subscriber and watch with them.
  3. Show kids how adults use technology. Instead of always peering over their shoulders, adults can let kids in on the ways we are using technology. Invite them to observe and use technology with you, but be sure to choose media that is appropriate for young audiences.
  4. Understand who kids are and what they’re trying to achieve. In his insightful Tedtalk, researcher Maurice Wheeler discusses the importance of understanding who children are and what they’re trying to achieve with technology. He argues that until we understand these key points, we can’t authentically engage with them. Check out his talk to see the three developmental groups that children fall into online and how this effects how they consume and use online media: