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Response #3: Smarter Phones, Smarter Kids

There has been a lot of discussion lately surrounding smart phones and their potential to be used as valuable teaching devices. This is even happening at the highest levels of government. In March of this year, First Lady Michelle Obama endorsed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Apps for Healthy Kids Challenge as part of her Let’s Move campaign. The competition is calling on game developers to create innovative, fun and engaging games that encourage children and teens to eat healthier and be more active.

That same week, Mashable covered the launch of Fisher Price’s new iPhone app for 2-year-olds. The games are designed to teach kids and keep them distracted. By the time April’s Fast Company arrived in my mailbox, I wasn’t at all surprised to see two young twin girls on the cover both holding smart phones with this text: The Real Smart Phone Revolution: How Tech Is Making Kids Smarter Everywhere.

I attended a forum earlier this year at the Kaiser Family Foundation that featured the chairman of the FCC, media executives and child development experts. The discussion surrounded the release of the organization’s national survey of media usage among children and teens. According to the findings, daily media use among young kids and teens is up dramatically from five years ago. The average American child aged 8 to 18 now spends seven hours and 38 minutes each day plugged in. Nearly 20 percent of media consumption occurs on mobile device, including cell phones, iPods or handheld video game players.

Today’s children are a part of a generation that has never known a world without ubiquitous handheld and networked technology. It will be fascinating to see how different our world will become when they  graduate college and enter the workforce. E-mail viewed as “old school” is only the start of it all.

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