The rate of technological change is phenomenal. Ignoring the retail thrust to convince children they must have the very latest model, the component advances can have a huge effect on the use and desirability of smart technology. The incorporation of a camera into a phone provides an almost instant facility to capture events that would have otherwise been missed. Regrettably this has led to the demise in sales of normal cameras – that is if ever a normal camera still exists. They too have undergone a transformation that in turn saw the demise of film based photography and prints from negatives.
But smart phone cameras have induced a new phenomenon, that of the selfie; the modern manifestation of the ‘I Spy Book’ and autograph book as a collector’s album but with a twist that is not entirely beneficial. The narcissist element of the process has obscured the base line. Instead of collecting mementos of scenery, architecture and events the user is totally focused in ensuring their own presence in every shot to be then broadcast in social media. This had led to some bizarre outcomes. The tragic death of tourists that step backwards over the edge of mountains whilst gaining the ideal shot, the closure of a park in Colorado USA where selfie hunters have ignored repeated warnings not to attempt a shot in close proximity to black bear to the point that the rangers had to close the park to protect tourists, or maybe the bears
On the positive side many technical causes of accidents have been revealed by the judicial capture of detail on smart phones that happened to be present.
The abundance of apps available for phones and tablets has provided a wealth of information at the touch of a button. The rapid response enticing the user to seek information where the time to search conventional data sources would have seen enthusiasm wane long before the result was revealed. Financial education has been hugely advanced by the presence of banking apps. Children can experience the practical application of maths in the control of money instantly, overcoming visits to the branch of a bank that may have not been as informative.
Despite the instant acquisition of knowledge now available from mobile technology we learn of a downside in the classroom. This surely involves the lack of discipline by the student and respect for the teacher. We mentioned in another article “Smartphones In School Need Effective Control” the need to selectively jam all mobile communication during lessons. It would have been better if the instruction to desist could have heeded by students and indeed parents who feel they have a right to contact offspring at any time. But in a similar way we learnt of the closure of the park with bears in the USA, we have to accept that sensible request from guardians of common sense and respect will fail and total bans will be the only solution. But herein lies a conundrum, the very instrument that can accelerate the learning curve for children has now to be switched off due to misuse, which is an unbelievable travesty.
By Alistair Owens