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Kids Today: Digital Skills vs. Life Skills

by Nicki on January 21, 2011

Part of their ‘Digital Diaries’ series, Internet security company AVG has released a new study, which sheds some surprising light on just how much technology’s changed the way we live from an early age.

  • 69% of children 2- 5 years old can use a computer mouse – but only 11% can tie their own shoelaces.

  • 58% of young children know how to play a computer game - while 52% know how to ride a bike, and only 20% know how to swim.

  • 28% of young children can make a mobile phone call – but only 20% know to dial 911 in case of an emergency

  • 21% of 4- 5 year olds know how to use a smartphone app – and 17% of 2- 3 year olds possess the same skill

What a generation gap! Forget about those archetypal development milestones that we all remember, like tying your first shoelace, or taking the training wheels off your bike!

It’s great that kids today can be so switched on. They’ll have to be able to adapt to rapidly evolving developments to stay current and competitive later in life (ask the many people struggling in our current job climate).

But should Digital Skills be championed at the expense of Life Skills? Despite what technophobes or technophiles may argue, there should be a balance – Digital Skills and Life Skills can complement each other.

Personally, I would think I’ve failed as a parent if my 4-year old could turn on the computer and start watching Sesame Street on Hulu, but was in danger of drowning in my backyard swimming pool. I also think the notion of ‘savvy’ 4-year olds surfing the net raises concerns about what exactly they have access to, who’s targeting them, and how to protect children online.

But this education – of how to responsibly enjoy the phenomenon that is the Internet, and technology, while not overlooking those bike riding and swimming lessons – falls to the all-powerful parents. Do we want our children using Velcro sneakers all their lives, or can we get around to teaching those 89% to tie their damn shoes?

With children being exposed to technology at a younger and younger age, the affect this can have on developmental learning remains to be seen. Suffice to say, the 21st century blend of learning and technology is here to stay.

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