The impact of technology is widespread and accelerating. Experts predict that 90% of the world's population will connect to the internet within 10 years or less. Evolving technology has become an unstoppable force, reshaping our societies, ignoring national borders, and interconnecting economies. There doesn't seem to be any way to control it. However, one fact is certain: our kids are at the center of it.
Today's children are born into a digital world. They use technologies and media from the time they begin to walk. Sometimes they have difficulty distinguishing between the virtual and the real worlds. In fact, children spend more time immersed in technology than they do with people, including their parents. It is estimated that they spend an average of 7 hours a day in front of some sort of digital device.
With the ever increasing amount and flow of information, digital proficiency may be the next survival skill. Therefore it is essential that children learn how to develop that skill without losing themselves in the process. Guiding them is a challenge we need to face.
First, we need to realize that with so much exposure to content, there are both opportunities and dangers. What and when is something appropriate for children, and at what age? Who decides? Media is so pervasive and accessible, yet there is no consensus about what is suitable. People have different perspectives, not only about content, but also about how to govern access.
Governments must also decide what controls are necessary. Policies must be put into place and standards set. Whatever the decisions, the consequences will be enormous.
It seems naive to sit back and let children make their own decisions and explore whatever captures their fancy. So technology has presented us with a huge dilemma that will shape the future. Without a doubt, it's an issue that parents and governments will need to address. Not only children need to develop a digital intelligence, but so do each and every one of us.