15th century. Gutenberg has to face growing discontent about his invention: printing. Of course, the anticipation of such an impactful revolution in communication is frightening, and the idea of providing the population with unlimited access to information did not delight those in power. 21th century. Some adults are deeply concerned about children using digital devices. Uncanny coincidence? I think not. (Continues below.)
First opposing speech
While technology will always continue to surprise us, new devices become part of our everyday life. As children today are brought up with Internet, mobile phones and now iPads, one can only wonder at the profound change undergone by this new generation and the dangers of overexposing it to this technology. Indeed, not only does this phenomenon deeply affect children’s social life and environment, but it seeps discreetly and dangerously into the family circle, eating it away slowly but surely. (Continues below.)
First proposing speech
15th century. Gutenberg has to face growing discontent about his invention: printing. Of course, the anticipation of such an impactful revolution in communication is frightening, and the idea of providing the population with unlimited access to information did not delight those in power. 21th century. Some adults are deeply concerned about children using digital devices. Uncanny coincidence? I think not. It seems to be a human reaction to wish that people at the bottom of the ladder remain out of a certain sphere of knowledge, or innocent if you prefer. Yet, communication technologies have already brought so much to children… For a start, a number of children wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for online dating websites. Now, of course, digital devices and access to the internet have their drawbacks and disingenuous traps, but they certainly are a fantastic source of opportunities, and this house believes that digital devices are good for children.
Kids have always been associated with imagination. For some people, inspiration can only be fostered in stimulating surroundings, which numerical devices cannot provide because they have a finite number of possibilities. However, when children only had legos, they still managed to create their own worlds. Nowadays, they just have a bigger basis to build from, and their feet are safer. In developed countries, new technology even enables children to materialise their dreams, as in a summer camp where children can develop their own applications.
As for knowledge, it is now becoming reachable for a growing part of the population thanks to the internet. In Vietnam, 40% of the children living in rural areas use the internet for their homework. Dear opposing team, you can focus on the reduced attention span of first world children who would rather text in class than listen to their teacher, which we will discuss later. Or, you can open your eyes to the devastatingly important part of the children who don’t have access to education, and who could benefit from a better connectivity. The only problem for them concerning digital devices is that they don’t have any.
However this trend is evolving as the prices of technological tools are dropping.
Even though one could go on and on about the possibilities for education provided by digital devices, our attention needs to be drawn to the dangerous aspects of a child’s life. Unfortunately, some children have to face online bullying and humiliation. However, this house believes that the real problem there is not “online”, but “bullying”. Mistreatment of children by their peers is not a new phenomenon. Then why a soar in the number of cyber bullying reports, will you ask? The bullying situations, be they online or not, have not thrived suddenly. It is the possibility for children to ask for help that has. And this, ladies and gentlemen, this is the proof that, when used correctly, technology can provide children with appropriate help and haven.
Another danger that is supposedly linked to digital devices is sexual abuse. Yes, some scenes of child abuse are sold on the internet, and yes, if connectivity was the reason why this is perpetrated, we should relinquish it immediately. However, we are in the same pattern as for bullying. Abuses take place, with or without digital devices, but technology enables us to fight it. For instance, thanks to the internet, Britain’s national crime agency has recently tracked and arrested a number of paedophiles in the Philippines.
Not only can digital devices provide children with more ideas and information, but they also empower them. They can ask for help more easily and exercise their rights. They can assert their freedom of speech, be it to hail One Direction members or to get involved in the political life as exemplified in the action “Text to Change Africa”, where children can anonymously text their government to describe their wishes about their country. Digital devices are definitely good for children.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much and vote for us!
First opposing speech
While technology will always continue to surprise us, new devices become part of our everyday life. As children today are brought up with Internet, mobile phones and now iPads, one can only wonder at the profound change undergone by this new generation and the dangers of overexposing it to this technology. Indeed, not only does this phenomenon deeply affect children’s social life and environment, but it seeps discreetly and dangerously into the family circle, eating it away slowly but surely.
Let’s imagine a family meal, all the family members around the table, sharing different events of the day, pleased to be reunited once again. Unfortunately, all we can really do is imagine this, because new digital devices have supplanted the traditional and essential relationship between family members. Television followed by the Internet have now become man’s best friends, friends that man and child both find very difficult to part with and are ever so happy to renew acquaintance with. What can parents teach their offspring that cannot be found on the web or on television in just a couple of clicks and a couple of seconds? Far too many children and parents share this point of view making the family what it has become today: a fragile frame for a child to grow up in. Children and parents no longer communicate like they used to, preventing the latter from exchanging life experiences and their knowledge acquired over the years. Furthermore, it has become more and more difficult for parents to even relate to their kids, who sometimes master these new devices better than they do. In fact, a study shows that in 2010, children in the US spend more than 7 &1/2 hours a day using smartphones, computers or other electronic devices. What time then, do they have left for their family and friends?
Dismantling the core of a united family is not all electronic devices and internet can do. On a strictly scholastic level, children are highly influenced by their extended use of video games, iPads, and Internet. It appears their concentration span has been shortened. The amount of information and stimuli received by youth today through new technology is exceedingly greater than that of their elders. When presented with rather less stimulating input, a child will have difficulty concentrating or finding interest in what is being taught. This does not only make study tedious and unvaried for a young student, but may as well generate a disruptive attitude in class, hindering those interested from reaping the benefits of their attention. Yet children’s concentration is not all that is at stake.
New devices come with a price and with high costs come disparities. To a certain extent what one owns determines one’s social status. When analyzing things through this perspective, one can only reason that digital devices such as the iPad, sold at the modest price of $500, are responsible for creating a gap between children who, although attending the same school, do not interact because they belong to different spheres and have had different upbringings. It is very difficult to sympathize with someone who does not share the least of your hobbies. To make matters worse, children who appear to have the same financial privileges, are often at war on social networks that encourage them to gossip, insult and mock others. Words used as weapons and wielded by youths become experts, are dangerous and are known to have destroyed more than one’s reputation and pride.
For all of these reasons and more that we, opposition have presented and will continue to complete, new digital devices are in many ways, barriers to the development of children.