I was at an industry event in December and part of it was a panel with the CEO of a smaller carrier in Canada and one of their partners discussing the way in which small companies can play in a world dominated by larger dragons. During the conversation, I was blown away by something the CEO said about kids and cellphone use.
He warned the room to control how often children use their mobile device by putting them on prepaid accounts – but this is a flawed approach to the freedom of learning mobile gives them.
On first blush this seems right for the cost-conscious world we live in today but when I gave it some more thought I wonder if this is the wrong message to send out at all. I don’t want my kids to be limited in their knowledge, limited in information gathering or to dull their enthusiasm to learn.
Most of what teenagers do on their phones today is text, no doubt, and some have texting, um, issues, but we should always encourage the adoption of new technologies to facilitate lifelong learning and mobile is a key to that.
Take St. Andrew’s School in Savannah, Georgia for instance. It is a private school with 440 students and has deployed iPads to every single student in grades 1-12 plus classroom sets for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten. St. Andrew’s is just one of over 70 schools rolling out iPad deployments to students in the K-12 world – some as library loaners, others as 500-600 unit deployments to students for in-class learning. This doesn’t include universities like Setton Hall handing out 6000+ iPads to incoming freshmen.
I have always been a firm believer in lifelong learning and mobile facilitates that in a way that other technologies could never. Interested in knowing the history of a building, street, neighborhood? Pull out your phone and ask it. Trying to identify a piece of art or a statue? Google Goggle it and get the history. Interested in a self-guided tour of a museum from an expert 1000 miles away? Download the app and start walking. Mobile does this – it opens up answers to questions you never thought to ask.
So the idea of limiting the use of these devices seems alien to me. That CEO should be asking how he can make it work, make mobile the learning device for all students – in school or out – and change his tune to accept the torrent that is coming.
Limiting the ways your children leverage mobile is akin to limiting the number of books you let them read.