Tablet vs. computer vs. phone


In my post Halloween sugar rush, my thoughts turn to young kids and how they interact with computer technology in all its forms from laptops to smart phones. There is a lot of fear about the harmful effects of computers as an electronic babysitter on children.

I want to flip the perspective and see computer technology from their viewpoint. My niece, under age 10, will only know of a world of emojis on smartphones, but I propose some kids are more savvy than adults give them credit for. Some kids understand that computers are tools to achieve a purpose, much like a wrench is different from a hammer.

Out of the blue, a 6 year old student commented to me about the ipads in his classroom and the laptops for all students. Davey told me that Ipads were for games, and laptops were for work. Part of his observation was based on the older students signing out laptops for research or English assignments. But I was impressed by his ability to articulate coherently the differences between tablets and computers.

The argument about the right tool for the right job was resonating with me again, as I read a student blog by Ethan, aged 9 and a homeschooled student currently on a cross Canada road trip. My interest in homeschooling and computer technology came to the forefront with Ethan’s discussion of computers vs. phones. Full disclosure – I am related to Ethan.

Ethan has distilled the major points of strength and weaknesses of computers and smart phones by using an app available on computers. If I am buying a new computer, I will follow Ethan’s steps about buying what I need, and not what I think I want. Ethan’s process is similar to what most of us, as rational consumers, will go through when making a big ticket purchase.
But because kids typically are not as developed cognitively like adults we tend to discount their perceptions, but both Davey and Ethan prove us wrong. The challenge as parents and educators is to use computers in a thoughtful and tactical way. It is a formidable challenge as many adults aren’t comfortable using computers themselves, or fall into the rabbit hole of wasting time on the internet. As ever the optimist, I am hopeful that young kids will grow up to be both smart consumers or smart programmers.

  • Brenda



One Response to “Tablet vs. computer vs. phone”

  1. 1 Shena JB

    Very true about how kids see computers. My daughter Katrina uses tablets, phone and laptop differently. Tablet: games, videos, reading, phone: snap chat, video. Laptop for serious work: playing mine craft, editing video and using Skype to play games with friends at the same time.

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