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Children and Technology: The Disappearing Digital Divide

A new study by Latitude Research reports that kids can predict the future of technology.  Today, children don’t neatly divide their virtual interactions from their "real world" experiences. For them, these two realms continue to converge as technologies become more interactive, portable, connected and integrated.

Children and TechnologySome of the findings in the study got me thinking about the general topic of kids and technology.  Technology is becoming fully “integrated” into the daily lives of many children -- from constant social interaction through Facebook, online games and text messaging, it’s easy to see why the digital divide is disappearing.

Years ago I logged on -- through early BBS systems then later to Internet IRC, games and websites --and there was a distinct divide between online and offline (or physical and virtual).  At that time, of course, I didn’t have the mobile devices that kept me online 24/7 or the sheer speed at which data can be transferred. Today’s kids do and many carry a virtual technology-driven world in their pockets.

When it comes to discussions about kids and technology, I am often the odd-Mom out. I don’t agree with the general observations and somewhat stereotypical perception of today’s digital children. I do believe that computers and technology empower children. 

It’s not all about text messaging and being social.  When kids want to know the answer to something they just Google it; they read news, find online communities and experience different cultures through online social interactions.

Today’s children are not afraid to sit at a computer and experiment or try new applications or even learn graphic design or how to program at an early age.

According to the study, "Children’s Future Requests for Computers and the Internet," kids are predicting that the future of media and technology lies in better integrating digital experiences with real-world places and activities.

There is no doubt in my mind about that statement. If today’s children are left to guide the direction of tomorrow’s technology, the "digital divide" will be nothing but an irrelevant phrase.

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