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Generation Next - Tech-Savvy Geniuses Or Illiterate Dumb-Dumbs?
Generation Next - Tech-Savvy Geniuses Or Illiterate Dumb-Dumbs?
Our children are being born at the peak of an unprecedented technological revolution. Samantha Herbst explores how growing up in a digital world may help or hinder our children’s future
Samantha Herbst

MOST OF US remember what life was like before smartphones, high-speed fiber, and on-demand television.

At the same time, we’re also tech-savvy and Google smart. We were there for the birth and boom of social media, the rise of e-commerce – and the fall of the tickey box.

We have navigated life both with and without the internet, before robots and virtual reality went from fun fantasy to matter of fact.

Our children, on the other hand, will never know what it’s like to wait patiently for their favorite TV show to air once a week.

They’ll always be able to delete a selfie they don’t like. Social media will forever remind them when someone is celebrating a birthday and, as long as they have an internet connection, they’ll never need a map book to find their way home.

Sceptics worry that the digital age will have a negative impact on the base intelligence of the next generation – our children’s generation. Should we be worried? Are our children getting dumber, or should we view this as an inevitable consequence of evolution?

“It’s a bit of both,” says author and human potential expert Nikki Bush.

She highlights that, while technology has made the human race infinitely more effective, efficient and able to do things faster, quicker and easier, in many ways, it’s stopped us from using our brains the way we have in the past.

“Many of us today use Waze or similar navigation applications. These apps are amazing. Not only are they digital maps but also crowd-sourced pieces of artificial intelligence that help us enormously.

But, if you’re a child or even an adult, and you don’t know how to find your way around town, you’re not creating the neurological pathway in your brain to develop a sense of direction, because you’ve never had to,” Nikki says.

WE CAN’T LIVE ON TECHNOLOGY ALONE

Map books are not the only thing that will have become redundant owing to technology.

With the world going digital, few people put pen to paper anymore.

So, is it even necessary for our children to learn to write (let alone write in cursive)?

“Yes of course! When there’s no electricity and you can’t charge your smartphone or laptop, you better hope that your child knows how to write. What if their survival depends on it?” Nikki is adamant that children need to learn to operate without technology too.

So what can we be doing to empower our children?

Nikki suggests taking your family on a weekend adventure without internet connectivity. “Teach them how to read a map, use a compass. Give them a sense of direction and bearing – survival skills they could use without relying on connectivity,” she says.

“Technology has done a lot for the world, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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January/February 2020