By Alisa Taylor

Wayne Gretzky scored 50 goals in 39 games using a wooden stick. He was the best hockey player because of his skills, not because of the equipment he used. In order to achieve greatness, we need to hone our skills and commit to the goal. The tools we use to succeed facilitate that journey, but do not guarantee achievement.

If I want to become a faster runner, my new shoes and cute running shorts may motivate me to get outside, but will not get my legs moving faster. I need to put those shoes to the pavement and make some tracks. And I cannot just run once nor can I run 3 times a day everyday. Neither situation will get me the results I desire.

The same can be said for technology. If a child is given a device, their intelligence level does not suddenly increase. Downloading Minecraft or Tynker won’t turn them into architectural or coding geniuses, but perhaps it will get their attention and peak their curiosity.

Devices are tools and when used appropriately, act as a gateway into a world of creativity. They can open a door into endless learning possibilities and ignite that passion for exploring further. But, those tools, the devices, must be managed by parents. Children are not capable of navigating and managing technology on their own and rely upon their parents for guidance. It is no longer an option for parents to hand over the iPad and turn their heads the other way. By doing so, the child is unknowingly up against some dangerous vulnerabilities.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends consistent time limits placed on media for kids aged 6 and older. In addition, ensuring media is not replacing adequate sleep, physical activity and other healthy behaviours. So, if a child is spending endless hours on their iPad, is that the fault of the iPad? The iPad is the tool. It must be managed appropriately. Establishing time limits, ensuring age appropriate content and demonstrating good technology habits are parents’ responsibilities.

When managed appropriately, technology can spark an interest in creating and learning new content and ideas. Kids are comfortable with technology and so may appear to be capable of managing it themselves. However, if parents are providing the technology, they must also provide guidance and support. Empower your kids to access that world of creativity and watch the excitement as they conquer something new.

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” – Bill Gates

Alisa is a former Criminal Intelligence Analyst and has worked in law enforcement for the last 15 years. She is passionate about keeping kids safe and kind online and ensuring they thrive in our digital world. When Alisa isn’t online, you might spot her in the YEG river valley with her dogs, husband, and daughter or escaping the city for a weekend of camping.  You can follow Alisa on her blog The Lotus Pageas well as on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
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