The sheer speed at which children pick up technology nowadays is downright scary! Earlier today I watched my 2-year-old daughter expertly swipe the screen on my touch screen phone in an attempt to call her beloved grandma yet again! When I was a child the only entertainment I had was playing in the woods behind our garden with my cousins or curling up with a good book.
Technology, especially the internet, has broadened our horizons and given us immediate access to every piece of information we could ever dream of! Our kids are surrounded by technology, it is part of their everyday lives and many are adept at keyboarding, word processing, Internet research skills, multimedia production, social sharing, and navigating interactive e-books from a young age. However, with all this information at our fingertips, I can’t help but wonder if this is a benefit or a hindrance to the development and learning of literacy? Childhood reading is an important foundation for learning and a subject about which parents feel near-obsessively anxious. So should we be worried that the generation of tots growing up as digital natives will never learn to love books? As our children grow up will they have their head buried in a book or will they be staring at their phones or laptops talking only in’ text speak?’ I have to be honest, the latter scares me. As I child I used to love sitting under a tree reading or even going one better and putting pen to paper developing stories of my own from the images in my head. Will the next generation be able to enjoy these simple pleasures as much as I did (and actually still do) on a computer screen with the temptation of social media and you tube hovering over them? Will we eventually lose the need for handwriting altogether? Our generation grew up with a love of books and many of us have developed a powerful emotional attachment to the books of our childhood; the tiger who came to tea was one of my personal favourites! So it’s not surprising that there are a number of adult’s resistant to the fast paced changes associated with the development of technology.
But the world IS changing and quickly! Literacy and books will need to change to accommodate the future. Perhaps there will be no need for tactile books in the future but does that mean that literacy will diminish as a result? Oddly enough the prevalence of instant messaging, texting and social networking means that actually, this generation is emerging as more engaged with the written word than any previous generation in living memory! Stories can come alive with moving images or pictures that talk when you press them, and for those learning to read there is a wealth of information and strategies for learning to suit every pupil. In fact, technology is proving to be an invaluable resource in schools and at home in teaching our children to read and write, giving us universal access to teaching materials.
The internet is putting young readers in touch with each other. Through social networking, people can connect and bond over a love of their favourite book or author like never before, with people from all over the world. You only have to look at the Harry Potter franchise to appreciate how quickly a fan base can spread! There is even an increasing body of evidence to suggest that children who blog, text or use social networking sites are more confident about their writing skills.
So perhaps we should stop worrying and embrace the change with an open mind. The future is bright for literacy with an expansion of different ways to engage with stories and the written word on the horizon!
Carla is a part-time freelance writer and mum to her 2-year-old daughter. She has always had a passion for reading and since having her daughter she has become increasingly interested in young people’s learning. She even hopes to publish her own children’s stories one day! In September 2015 Carla set up her own company, Clever little Cherubs, as an Independent Usborne Organiser selling brand new children’s books and setting up local events to inspire a love of reading. Working with Usborne has given Carla access to books written specifically to support the improvement of literacy in children.
Carla’s aim is to inspire a love of reading in every child as she strongly believes that all children deserve to experience the enjoyment that comes from reading books.