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What we learned in 2013

3 years ago

Tom Baker writer
Tom Baker Staff Writer Derby, UK
That's it! Fold up the chairs, take down the banners, wash out the punch bowl: 2013 is at an end. It's been quite a year – a year of 3D printers, massive changes in education policy, and the iPotty – and we've learnt a lot, too. Here's what, exactly, we learned this year!
January: Ditch the computers, become an IT whizz!
That's the (seemingly contradictory) advice Simon Munk gave:
'Don’t assume shoving your child at an iPad will produce an IT – or any kind of – genius. Nor should you assume that because your child can swipe a touchscreen, he or she is great at animating images in Scratch or does maths puzzles you can’t, they’re going to maintain any early advantage in later life.'
February: Get girls into tech!
'”What message is it to a girl who might be predisposed towards engineering that the Meccano is in the boys’ section?” one parent asked me. What indeed. And perhaps that is the answer - we need to change our attitudes to what are girls’ and boys’ toys, educational choices and career paths in order for our kids - particularly our daughters - to follow suit.' 
March: Bring generations together with Kinect!
''Recent research undertaken by North Carolina State University found that there was “a link between gaming and better well-being and emotional functioning’ in the elderly.”'
April: Computers aren't rewiring brains!
Matt Thrower reassured us, after some scary reports:
'Since the advent of the internet, some scientists and journalists have been telling us how dangerous it is. The most recent salvos have been fired by neurologist Susan Greenfield, who opines that it’s worryingly addictive and potentially damaging. In my opinion, this is her opinion presented as fact.'
May: Let sleeping teens lie!
Those snoozy youngsters aren't just being lazy, said Rachel Carlyle:
'Sleep research over the past decade has revealed teenagers need more sleep than we thought because of the seismic changes in their pre-frontal cortexes – more like the nine or ten hours their 11-year-old siblings get.'
June: Take your tablet on holiday!
It's all you needed, according to Matt Thrower:
'Get your device loaded with some of these suggestions, along with books and films, and it’ll provide all the holiday entertainment you could want.'
July: Mental health should be taught in schools!
'In the age of cyberbullying and the like, children's mental well-being is more important than ever. “We need to move away from only tackling the symptoms of acute poor mental health and well-being to focus on education, prevention and early intervention,” said a report by Mindfull.'
August: Zombies are the future of education!
'What better way to assess the impact of an epidemic on an increasingly large and compact human population? Or perhaps to determine the science behind decay? How about managing your stress levels in a disaster?'
September: Kids are safer than ever online!
James Diamond wrote, in the run up to the year's online safety week:
'Google is fond of saying that ‘the web is what you make of it’, and nowhere is this truer than in how children engage with the internet. Governments, manufacturers, and software developers are building the safeguards to help keep children safe online; the challenge now is to get parents and children using them.'
October: Keep up with their social networking!
Cliff Jones emphasised the importace of knowing your Facebook from your
'It’s a parental duty to learn about the tools they are using. Uninformed decisions are bad ones, especially when they are made too late. You need to know what digital platforms your kids are using, and take a refresher course at least every six months.'
November: Their common sense is different to yours!
Siobhan O' Neill pondered how life skills are different for today's tweens and teens:
'Whether techy children have more or less common sense is hard to say. Kids are probably just kids. But as parents we can help them develop good judgement by backing off as they learn about the outdoor world, but being more present as they experience their online world.'
December: Above all, play is crucial!
In an enlightning post, Dr Amanda Gummer reminded us how play is crucial to kids' development:
'In early infancy, toys and activities that promote attachment are key, closely followed by games that promote copying and turn taking. As children reach toddlerhood, they can start to make their own fun, which contributes to their burgeoning sense of self as they start to develop their own preferences.'
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