Leadership Skills Are Necessary for Technology Managers in the Current Business Economy

Technology oriented careers have been making a comeback. Accordingly, talented technology managers are necessary in every area of the field – from Web design and development, to database-driven e-commerce, to software engineering, to technical service and support. Technology positions, from programmer to CIO, are also critically important in organizations from all industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, government and service firms. Technology professionals often seek career advancement but need the leadership skills necessary to advance their careers. In response to these industry demands, adult-learning and distance learning schools now offer technology degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, often in accelerated formats.

However, other necessary characteristics of successful technology managers cannot be found on a silicon microchip or in a line of CSS markup code. Some of these characteristics include a talent for leadership; the ability to communicate ideas and directions, and the ability to motivate and mentor staff. These skills are not taught in all technology curricula of the 21st century. However, some information technology and computer science academic curriculum designers are beginning to recognize the importance of teaching soft skills in the classroom. Accordingly, some programs of study now emphasize specialized leadership training for would-be technology managers.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that computer and information systems professionals typically require advanced-level training (namely, a master’s degree) in order to be considered for leadership positions in technology. The BLS also points to the need for technology job applicants to have diverse experience in technology systems and applications. This experience will allow them to lead staff who work in different departments and who have different types of technology skills. An additional benefit to pursuing training for technology management careers is the bright future outlook of this field. These careers are expected to grow 16 percent through the year 2016.

Technology leadership training programs at the master’s degree level will typically have two or three core academic components. The first core component, obviously, is technology. Students who pursue this type of master’s degree typically begin the program with knowledge of at least one higher-level programming language; and are comfortable with database management or development, as well as computer networking systems administration. The master’s in leadership and information technology course of study will build on students’ foundations in information science and systems, enabling students to approach these disciplines from a leadership and management perspective.

Students will learn to lead employees as well as communicate with all levels of the organization and customers.

In CIO Magazine’s 2007 State of the CIO survey of more than 500 IT professionals, the three skills “most pivotal for success in your role” were: the ability to communicate effectively, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to lead/motivate staff. In other words, leadership skills. The primary characteristics that all technology managers must have are leadership skills. These attributes enable technology leaders to motivate staff; to direct projects or business activities in a way that maximizes profits, and to ensure that staff on hand are competent and contribute to strong worker retention. According to career advice site Monster.com, the best managers and leaders in technology are those men and women who are directly involved in project management and task delegation, rather than those who give orders from afar.

In the tech industry, there exists a decades-old stereotype about the social inclinations of technology workers. Unfairly or not, they have been historically pegged as lacking in leadership skills and strong communication abilities. Industry efforts to disassemble this stereotype is one primary reason why students interested in technology management are able to enroll in master’s-level programs of study that combine technology skills with interpersonal and leadership skills.

The other reason more and more master’s-level technology programs of study focus on business and leadership skills is because technology manager careers have become more specialized and decisions-driven. Managers in tech fields must be able to assess the technology systems in place at their companies, and make system implementation and upgrade decisions that will be positive for their employees and clients. Technology must support and align with organizational goals. Making the right technology decisions requires developed leadership skills, strong soft skills, and polished business acumen.

As technology continues to change and develop rapidly, technology leadership master’s degree programs will continue to develop targeted curricula, integrating technology with the business world to produce strong leaders.

How Can Instructional Technology Make Teaching and Learning More Effective in the Schools?

In the past few years of research on instructional technology has resulted in a clearer vision of how technology can affect teaching and learning. Today, almost every school in the United States of America uses technology as a part of teaching and learning and with each state having its own customized technology program. In most of those schools, teachers use the technology through integrated activities that are a part of their daily school curriculum. For instance, instructional technology creates an active environment in which students not only inquire, but also define problems of interest to them. Such an activity would integrate the subjects of technology, social studies, math, science, and language arts with the opportunity to create student-centered activity. Most educational technology experts agree, however, that technology should be integrated, not as a separate subject or as a once-in-a-while project, but as a tool to promote and extend student learning on a daily basis.

Today, classroom teachers may lack personal experience with technology and present an additional challenge. In order to incorporate technology-based activities and projects into their curriculum, those teachers first must find the time to learn to use the tools and understand the terminology necessary for participation in projects or activities. They must have the ability to employ technology to improve student learning as well as to further personal professional development.

Instructional technology empowers students by improving skills and concepts through multiple representations and enhanced visualization. Its benefits include increased accuracy and speed in data collection and graphing, real-time visualization, the ability to collect and analyze large volumes of data and collaboration of data collection and interpretation, and more varied presentation of results. Technology also engages students in higher-order thinking, builds strong problem-solving skills, and develops deep understanding of concepts and procedures when used appropriately.

Technology should play a critical role in academic content standards and their successful implementation. Expectations reflecting the appropriate use of technology should be woven into the standards, benchmarks and grade-level indicators. For example, the standards should include expectations for students to compute fluently using paper and pencil, technology-supported and mental methods and to use graphing calculators or computers to graph and analyze mathematical relationships. These expectations should be intended to support a curriculum rich in the use of technology rather than limit the use of technology to specific skills or grade levels. Technology makes subjects accessible to all students, including those with special needs. Options for assisting students to maximize their strengths and progress in a standards-based curriculum are expanded through the use of technology-based support and interventions. For example, specialized technologies enhance opportunities for students with physical challenges to develop and demonstrate mathematics concepts and skills. Technology influences how we work, how we play and how we live our lives. The influence technology in the classroom should have on math and science teachers’ efforts to provide every student with “the opportunity and resources to develop the language skills they need to pursue life’s goals and to participate fully as informed, productive members of society,” cannot be overestimated.

Technology provides teachers with the instructional technology tools they need to operate more efficiently and to be more responsive to the individual needs of their students. Selecting appropriate technology tools give teachers an opportunity to build students’ conceptual knowledge and connect their learning to problem found in the world. The technology tools such as Inspiration┬« technology, Starry Night, A WebQuest and Portaportal allow students to employ a variety of strategies such as inquiry, problem-solving, creative thinking, visual imagery, critical thinking, and hands-on activity.

Benefits of the use of these technology tools include increased accuracy and speed in data collection and graphing, real-time visualization, interactive modeling of invisible science processes and structures, the ability to collect and analyze large volumes of data, collaboration for data collection and interpretation, and more varied presentations of results.

Technology integration strategies for content instructions. Beginning in kindergarten and extending through grade 12, various technologies can be made a part of everyday teaching and learning, where, for example, the use of meter sticks, hand lenses, temperature probes and computers becomes a seamless part of what teachers and students are learning and doing. Contents teachers should use technology in ways that enable students to conduct inquiries and engage in collaborative activities. In traditional or teacher-centered approaches, computer technology is used more for drill, practice and mastery of basic skills.

The instructional strategies employed in such classrooms are teacher centered because of the way they supplement teacher-controlled activities and because the software used to provide the drill and practice is teacher selected and teacher assigned. The relevancy of technology in the lives of young learners and the capacity of technology to enhance teachers’ efficiency are helping to raise students’ achievement in new and exciting ways.

As students move through grade levels, they can engage in increasingly sophisticated hands-on, inquiry-based, personally relevant activities where they investigate, research, measure, compile and analyze information to reach conclusions, solve problems, make predictions and/or seek alternatives. They can explain how science often advances with the introduction of new technologies and how solving technological problems often results in new scientific knowledge. They should describe how new technologies often extend the current levels of scientific understanding and introduce new areas of research. They should explain why basic concepts and principles of science and technology should be a part of active debate about the economics, policies, politics and ethics of various science-related and technology-related challenges.

Students need grade-level appropriate classroom experiences, enabling them to learn and to be able to do science in an active, inquiry-based fashion where technological tools, resources, methods and processes are readily available and extensively used. As students integrate technology into learning about and doing science, emphasis should be placed on how to think through problems and projects, not just what to think.

Technological tools and resources may range from hand lenses and pendulums, to electronic balances and up-to-date online computers (with software), to methods and processes for planning and doing a project. Students can learn by observing, designing, communicating, calculating, researching, building, testing, assessing risks and benefits, and modifying structures, devices and processes – while applying their developing knowledge of science and technology.
Most students in the schools, at all age levels, might have some expertise in the use of technology, however K-12 they should recognize that science and technology are interconnected and that using technology involves assessment of the benefits, risks and costs. Students should build scientific and technological knowledge, as well as the skill required to design and construct devices. In addition, they should develop the processes to solve problems and understand that problems may be solved in several ways.

Rapid developments in the design and uses of technology, particularly in electronic tools, will change how students learn. For example, graphing calculators and computer-based tools provide powerful mechanisms for communicating, applying, and learning mathematics in the workplace, in everyday tasks, and in school mathematics. Technology, such as calculators and computers, help students learn mathematics and support effective mathematics teaching. Rather than replacing the learning of basic concepts and skills, technology can connect skills and procedures to deeper mathematical understanding. For example, geometry software allows experimentation with families of geometric objects, and graphing utilities facilitate learning about the characteristics of classes of functions.

Learning and applying mathematics requires students to become adept in using a variety of techniques and tools for computing, measuring, analyzing data and solving problems. Computers, calculators, physical models, and measuring devices are examples of the wide variety of technologies, or tools, used to teach, learn, and do mathematics. These tools complement, rather than replace, more traditional ways of doing mathematics, such as using symbols and hand-drawn diagrams.

Technology, used appropriately, helps students learn mathematics. Electronic tools, such as spreadsheets and dynamic geometry software, extend the range of problems and develop understanding of key mathematical relationships. A strong foundation in number and operation concepts and skills is required to use calculators effectively as a tool for solving problems involving computations. Appropriate uses of those and other technologies in the mathematics classroom enhance learning, support effective instruction, and impact the levels of emphasis and ways certain mathematics concepts and skills are learned. For instance, graphing calculators allow students to quickly and easily produce multiple graphs for a set of data, determine appropriate ways to display and interpret the data, and test conjectures about the impact of changes in the data.

Technology is a tool for learning and doing mathematics rather than an end in itself. As with any instructional tool or aid, it is only effective when used well. Teachers must make critical decisions about when and how to use technology to focus instruction on learning mathematics.

Patents: A Tool for Technological Intelligence

Patents are the largest source of technological information. Patent are given to the inventor as a reward for its innovation in the form of the exclusive right of the monopoly for a period of 20 years from the priority date of the invention. Due to advancement in the IT sector and internet, now these valuable documents are in the reach of the general public. Any person skilled in the art can go through various patent databases and after a search can get the patent document of their need. There are different patent databases viz, USPTO, EPO, JPO, etc freely open for the public access. If we go through the patents related to a specific technological area, we will be able to find the lots of information about the life cycle of the technological innovation viz.,

o evolutionary path of a specific technology,

o technological development,

o technological diversification,

o technology merges,

o major players in specific technological area,

o key points of the specific technology,

“The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) revealed that 90% to 95% of all the world’s inventions can be found in patented documents.”

Patent analysis can reveals very valuable informations, which is not available anywhere. After patent search the crucial part is the patent analysis, and one have to be very concise about their objective of the study. The information in the patent documents can be utilized in different form according to the need and mapped accordingly to get the picture of the entire analysis in snapshots.

Patent data can be used for the preparation of technological landscapes. Logistic mathematics and circle mathematics can be very useful in the plotting of the technological landscape. It can reveal the evolutionary trend of a technology, how it is evolved from a basic technology, along with the period of the technological diversification and its nature. These maps will also give the detailed overview of the merging of the different technologies to give rise to break-through technologies. These types of maps will be very useful for the R&D personals to evaluate the position of their research and technology, and also they will find way to more innovate more advanced and valuable technology.

In the today’s global context firms need to know what technologies can competitors choke easily, and may be attempting to. They also need to know the spaces in technologies where competition is intense, and the areas where competitors are concentrating their IP development and their R&D efforts. They need to be able to track patent acquisition and development strategies and chart out the competitive landscape. To evaluate technology before making any investment decision, firms need to know the pace of patenting activity in the technology, which patents embody fundamental ideas in the technology and how vulnerable the firm’s technologies are to patent infringements. This will give them much needed information in deciding between technology development and technology acquisition.

The ability to extract relevant information from patent literature is a crucial success factor for anyone involved in technological innovation. The technology mapping technique’s that can be used to transform patent information into knowledge that can influence decision-making.

Patents are an important source of technological intelligence that companies can use to gain strategic advantage. Technology Intelligence is a can be used for gathering, analyzing, forecasting, and managing external technology related information, including patent information. Computational patent mapping is a methodology for the development and application of a technology knowledgebase for technology and competitive intelligence. The primary deliverables of patent mapping is in the form of knowledge visualization through landscape and maps. These maps provide valuable intelligence on technology evolution/revolution, nature of various types of pioneering; big; pure; and emerging players, state-of-the-art assessment, etc.

These types of technological maps will prove to be a valuable multiplier in R&D and commercialization activities, in various ways including the following:

o Developing further insights in response to strategic requirements and policy formulation in the organization

o Forecasting and identifying technological activities and trends in the industry

o Aiding in the visualization of alternative development and growth paths available to the organization

o Enabling pre-emptive recognition and action on potential licensing opportunities

o Identifying prospective partners and clients

o Identify technology discontinuities and areas of opportunities in their chosen technologies

o Monitor and evaluate the technological process of competitors and potential competitors

o Support decisions on foray and investment into particular technologies and sub-technologies

o Surveillance of technological progress of competitors as well as to alert oneself to new entrants to the field

o Spotting of white spaces or opportunity areas within a dense technological domain

o Creative tool to simulate new ideas and create new IP

o Complementing corporate IP filing strategies

o Support technology proposals for large scale national and international level projects

o Support investment and technology due diligence on companies

Patent mapping can be an integral part of IP management. It can uncover valuable information hidden in patents and can provide useful indicators for technical trends, market trends, competitors changes and technological profile and innovation potential of a company. Patent maps are visual representations of patent information that has been mined and aggregated or clustered to highlight specific features. There is a high degree of flexibility in visualization, which may be in the form of time-series or as spatial maps. We provide a more market and technology oriented analysis of the complete set of patent portfolio assets via our patent mapping services. Patent mapping can be used to ascertain the quality of patents with respect to prevailing technology and the extent to which patents affect the technology. This is a valuable input in technology sourcing/development and R&D decisions. Patent mapping can be indispensable for both firms that have an under-utilized patent profile and are looking to license/assign it at the most favorable terms, as well as to firms that are looking at developing patent portfolio strength in a particular technological field.

Mere subject specialization is not enough for this, but analytical thinking and innovations are very essential. Today lots of software resources are available for mapping the patent data, but almost all are confined to bibliographic informations. The machine work cannot be compared with that of human intelligence. Patent mapping requires many skills. First and foremost among these is an ability to understand the complex scientific ideas protected by the patents themselves. Although it is possible to create a patent map by analyzing the relationships between patents without understanding the subject matter, such a map is often useless and needs to be refined by someone who understands the intricacies of the particular scientific discipline that is the basis of the invention. Thus, I expect that the need for people with scientific (and engineering) expertise in the field of patent mapping is on the increase. That’s why today lots of KPO firm are looking for the right individual and there is a huge demand today, which will certainly increase in the near future.

Technology Transfer Case Study – Pathfinders for Independent Living, Inc.

Pathfinders for Independent Living, Inc., a nonprofit organization, was founded after the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.) Pathfinders provides information and assistance to elderly and disabled individuals and their caregivers on how to live as independently as possible. Its core value is to Promote Self-Reliance. The culture within Pathfinders is one of friendly support. Pathfinders’ IT leadership proposed a project to design and build a network infrastructure that would provide security for sensitive data, data storage, Internet access, email access, updated applications and hardware, and user training. Changing the environment would affect the organizational structure and culture of Pathfinders. This paper discusses the organizational changes that occurred due a change in technology.

Technology Transfer

Technology transfer describes activities that have the aim of establishing measurable process improvement through the adoption of new practices. Assistive technology reduces the gap experienced by disabled and elderly individuals in accomplishing daily activities. Some of these technologies are text telephones, Braille computer monitors, infrared pointing devices, artificial limbs, and assistive software. Introducing and encouraging the use of these technologies and many others to Pathfinders’ consumers, is a responsibility of the independent living specialists.

The independent living specialists assist the consumers in identifying the assistive technologies needed, applying for funding to purchase the technologies, and educating the public on the various technologies available. However to provide its services to its consumers, Pathfinders had to adapt to current information technologies.

A Strategy for Technology Transfer

Recognizing the relationship between technology transfer and process improvement is fundamental to Pathfinders’ approach to change. Technology cannot be changed without some impact on the process or personnel that use the technology, be it an increase in productivity, a reduction in cost, or a fundamental change in method. A number of key issues had to be addressed for the technology to be successfully transferred. These are divided into several categories; technology issues, process changes, and changes in culture.

Technology Issues

Pathfinders would join the Information Age by installing, new computers, file servers, network printers, a local area network (LAN), and Internet access. The installation process required preparing the PCs before delivering them to Pathfinders, then a visit to the office site to build the network and deploy the equipment. The PCs were standardized on Microsoft applications. Following the installation of the network, etc., training on the use of the software was provided. With the installation of the infrastructure complete, each independent living specialist and the executive director had a personal computer, email, and Internet access.

Designing and building a training center provided the opportunity for anyone to come in and learn more about computers and office application software. Pathfinders provided some basic training courses. Additionally, computer books were available for use with the computers to learn how to use the programs. Access to the Internet was provided. Funding was allocated through federal funds to support the changes in technology.

Process Changes

Before the technology changes, there were only two stand-alone PCs available for use by the staff, these PCs were very old, running DOS applications. Employees were forced to share the PCs or use typewriters to complete correspondence. Data was maintained on floppy disks and hardcopy. Access to the Internet for research was accomplished by going to the local library, which consumed valuable resources of time and personnel. Deploying the new infrastructure significantly changed the way the employees worked. The changes in infrastructure gave real-time access to the Internet, consumer data, and improved data security.

Changes in Culture

Prior to the deployment of technology, the employees were equal in their knowledge of using the available tools at Pathfinders. With the delivery of their network, a fundamental change occurred within the employee dynamics. An atmosphere of resentment developed due to an imbalance of knowledge and workload. Some of the employees went out of their way to grasp the advancement in technology thereby, improving themselves and their work processes. They pursued the educational opportunities offered to them by Pathfinders and enhanced their knowledge of computer applications. Productivity for these individuals increased, causing an increase in satisfaction by Pathfinders’ consumers.

Conversely, there was a minority of employees, who took a stance in not excepting these changes. These individuals spent much of their time complaining that they could not do the work using the tools provided, or repeatedly requested help from the employees that understood the technology. Defense mechanisms were employed to justify their reactions to the new technology. These employees viewed the technology change as a threat and wanted nothing to do with improving their computing skills or their work environment. However, as training and practice in using the improvements to the technology progressed, acceptance began to increase and resistance began to decrease. Change is difficult in all organizations but to stay in business Pathfinders was forced to change with the times.

Pathfinders operations depend heavily on federal grant money. Each year Pathfinders must forecast how that money will be spent and report that the goals of the previous year have been met. The Federal reporting system began as a hardcopy report that evolved to an online reporting system. Without the changes in technology, Pathfinders would find it difficult to apply for Federal grant money or report its disbursement.

Conclusion

Careful consideration was employed to determine if a change in IT infrastructure was warranted within the Pathfinders organization. Potential obstacles were identified and anticipated. One of those obstacles was the affect that a change in technology would have on the organizational culture of Pathfinders verses the improvement in customer service. Pathfinders identified that resistance to change and fear played a role in the effectiveness of the change. Additionally, Pathfinders identified that as the staff moved along the learning curve, acceptance of the technology increased and fear of the technology decreased.

Technology and Our Kids

With most people plugged in all the time, I often wonder what effect technology is having on our kids. Some say technology is another helpful learning tool that is making our kids smarter and some say it is having no significant effect at all. Still, others propose that technology use is encouraging social isolation, increasing attentional problems, encouraging unhealthy habits, and ultimately changing our culture and the way humans interact. While there isn’t a causal relationship between technology use and human development, I do think some of the correlations are strong enough to encourage you to limit your children’s screen time.

Is television really that harmful to kids? Depending on the show and duration of watching, yes. Researchers have found that exposure to programs with fast edits and scene cuts that flash unrealistically across the screen are associated with the development of attentional problems in kids. As the brain becomes overwhelmed with changing stimuli, it stops attending to any one thing and starts zoning out. Too much exposure to these frenetic programs gives the brain more practice passively accepting information without deeply processing it. However, not all programs are bad. Kids who watch slow paced television programs like Sesame Street are not as likely to develop attentional problems as kids who watch shows like The Power Puff Girls or Johnny Neutron. Educational shows are slow paced with fewer stimuli on the screen which gives children the opportunity to practice attending to information. Children can then practice making connections between new and past knowledge, manipulating information in working memory, and problem solving. Conclusively, a good rule of thumb is to limit television watching to an hour to two hours a day, and keep an eye out for a glossy-eyed transfixed gaze on your child’s face. This is a sure sign that his or her brain has stopped focusing and it is definitely time to shut off the tube so that he can start thinking, creating, and making sense out of things again (all actions that grow rather than pacify the brain).

When you do shut off the tube, don’t be surprised if you have a melt down on your hands. Technology has an addictive quality because it consistently activates the release of neurotransmitters that are associated with pleasure and reward. There have been cases of addictions to technology in children as young as four-years-old. Recently in Britain, a four-year-old girl was put into intensive rehabilitation therapy for an iPad addiction! I’m sure you know how rewarding it is to sign onto Facebook and see that red notification at the top of the screen, or even more directly how rewarding playing games on your computer can be as you accumulate more “accomplishments.” I am guilty of obsessive compulsively checking my Facebook, email, and blog throughout the day. The common answer to this problems is, “All things in moderation.” While I agree, moderation may be difficult for children to achieve as they do not possess the skills for self discipline and will often take the easy route if not directed by an adult. According to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children spend about 5 hours watching television and movies, 3 hours on the internet, 1 1/2 hours texting on the phone, and a 1/2 hour talking on the phone each day. That’s almost 75 hours of technology use each week, and I am sure these results are mediated by parental controls and interventions. Imagine how much technology children use when left to their own defenses! In a recent Huffington Post article, Dr. Larry Rosen summed it up well, “… we see what happens if you don’t limit these active participation. The child continues to be reinforced in the highly engaging e-world, and more mundane worlds, such as playing with toys or watching TV, pale in comparison.” How are you ever going to get your child to read a black and white boring old book when they could use a flashy, rewarding iPad instead? Children on average spend 38 minutes or less each day reading. Do you see a priority problem here?

With such frequent technology use, it is important to understand if technology use encourages or discourages healthy habits. It’s reported that among heavy technology users, half get C’s or lower in school. Light technology users fair much better, only a quarter of them receiving low marks. There are many factors that could mediate the relationship between technology use and poor grades. One could be decreased hours of sleep. Researchers from the Department of Family and Community Health at the University of Maryland found that children who had three or more technological devices in their rooms got at least 45 minutes less sleep than the average child the same age. Another could be the attention problems that are correlated with frequent technology use. Going further, multitasking, while considered a brilliant skill to have on the job, is proving to be a hindrance to children. It is not uncommon to see a school aged child using a laptop, cell phone, and television while trying to also complete a homework assignment. If we look closer at the laptop, we might see several tabs opened to various social networks and entertainment sites, and the phone itself is a mini computer these days. Thus, while multitasking, children are neglecting to give their studies full attention. This leads to a lack of active studying, a failure to transfer information from short term to long term memory, which leads ultimately to poorer grades in school. Furthermore, it is next to impossible for a child to engage is some of the higher order information processing skills such as making inferences and making connections between ideas when multitasking. We want our children to be deep thinkers, creators, and innovators, not passive information receptors who later regurgitate information without really giving it good thought. Therefore, we should limit access to multiple devices as well as limit duration of use.

Age comes into play when discussing the harmful effects of technology. For children younger than two-years-old, frequent exposure to technology can be dangerously detrimental as it limits the opportunities for interaction with the physical world. Children two-years-old and younger are in the sensorimotor stage. During this stage it is crucial that they manipulate objects in the world with their bodies so that they can learn cause-effect relationships and object permanence. Object permanence is the understanding that when an object disappears from sight, it still exists. This reasoning requires the ability to hold visual representations of objects in the mind, a precursor to understanding visual subjects such as math later in life. To develop these skills, children need several opportunities every day to mold, create, and build using materials that do not have a predetermined structure or purpose. What a technological device provides are programs with a predetermined purpose that can be manipulated in limited ways with consequences that often don’t fit the rules of the physical world. If the child is not being given a drawing app or the like, they are likely given programs that are in essence a lot like workbooks with structured activities. Researchers have found that such activities hinder the cognitive development of children this age. While researchers advise parents to limit their baby’s screen time to 2 hours or less each day, I would say it’s better to wait to introduce technology to your children until after they have at least turned 3-years-old and are demonstrating healthy cognitive development. Even then, technology use should be limited enormously to provide toddlers with time to engage in imaginative play.

Technology is changing the way children learn to communicate and use communication to learn. Many parents are using devices to quiet there children in the car, at the dinner table, or where ever social activities may occur. The risk here is that the child is not witnessing and thinking about the social interactions playing out before him. Children learn social skills through modeling their parents social interactions. Furthermore, listening to others communicate and talking to others is how children learn to talk to themselves and be alone. The benefits of solitude for children come from replaying and acting out conversations they had or witnessed during the day, and this is how they ultimately make sense of their world. The bottom line is, the more we expose our children to technological devices, the worse their social skills and behavior will be. A Millennium Cohort Study that followed 19,000 children found that, “those who watched more than three hours of television, videos or DVDs a day had a higher chance of conduct problems, emotional symptoms and relationship problems by the time they were 7 than children who did not.” If you are going to give your child screen privileges, at least set aside a time for just that, and don’t use technology to pacify or preoccupy your children during social events.

There’s no question that technology use can lead to poor outcomes, but technology itself is not to blame. Parents need to remember their very important role as a mediator between their children and the harmful effects of technology. Parents should limit exposure to devices, discourage device multitasking, make sure devices are not used during social events, and monitor the content that their child is engaging in (ie. Sesame Street vs. Johnny Neutron). Technology can be a very good learning tool, but children also need time to interact with objects in the real world, engage in imaginative play, socialize face-to-face with peers and adults, and children of all ages need solitude and time to let their mind wander. We need to put more emphasis on the “Ah-ha!” moment that happens when our minds are free of distractions. For this reason alone, technology use should be limited for all of us.