IPhone you shrank my Grandad

Iphone you shrank my grandad

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by Paul Nickerson - Writer

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Is Apple’s renewed focus on education driving a wedge between kids and their grandparents who were once seen as the fountain of all knowledge?

A report by Ofcom has revealed nearly 40% of kids now own a smartphone. Apple’s relentless pitch to schools has stepped up a gear with their new iOS8 operating system which according to its website “lets students and teachers collaborate like never before”.

But as a growing army of youngsters use their phones to discover the facts of life, a survey has shown it’s their grandparents who are feeling left out of the knowledge game.

Researchers found that fewer than one in four get asked about basic life skills by their grandchildren. The survey, conducted on behalf of The Lens Store also found that only one third of grandparents now get asked what life was like in their day.

Apple’s marketing bumf boasts of  “powerful student teacher workflows” and “collaboration across multiple applications”. Is it any wonder that grandparents feel their role is getting less important?

Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web says the internet is about making knowledge available to everyone and that mobile phones are an important tool to help share it.

‘Mobile learning’ is apparently the new buzz term for knowledge in the palm of your hand, and it’s starting to get some serious attention from educators and policy makers alike.  In remote parts of India mobile technology is now used to teach kids that are not able to get to a school.

“Nearly half of all toddlers had worked out how to use a mobile phone to access the internet”

With Apple’s announcement and similar noises coming from government it looks like technology companies and educational establishments are joining forces to meet learner’s needs.

And it’s the needs of the older learners as well as the young ones that are at the forefront of the new craze.

Ofcom’s report found that amazingly nearly half of all toddlers could use a mobile phone to access the internet. A mobile learning spokesperson told us “kids can use smartphones before they can walk so when they get to school a pen and paper no longer meets their expectations”.

Grandparents too have a new set of goals in life which educators and phone makers are keen to understand. Because they have to work for longer, older people need new skills in the workplace and mobile learning gives them a chance to discover them in their own home.

Skype Classroom

Connected: Microsoft say that nearly 100,000 teachers use Skype in the classroom. Photo: Sykpe.com

In fact there’s more good news for grandparents who might still feel outdone by the iPhone. US grandparents Charlie and Maria Girsch have created their own app to keep in touch with their six grandchildren spread across the country. Known as Famzoom the software allows grandparents to share kids drawings, play games and chat in real time. It’s an immersive experience that connects kids to their grandparents in a way they can relate to on their smart phone or tablet. So far it’s proved popular in the US.

Another survey conducted last year by the EU suggested that rather than driving kids away from their grandparents they might actually be bringing them together. According to the results, nearly three quarters of young people have spent an hour or more in the previous 3 months showing an older person how to use their smartphone.

Famzoom app

App: Famzoom created by grandparents to keep in touch with their grandchildren across the country

Earlier this year web phone company Skype asked users to tell their own stories about how they are using their mobiles to keep in touch with family and friends. There are now well over a thousand heart-warming stories on the Skype website including accounts of how grandchildren have remained in touch with their grandparents using the service.

Grandparents might well feel that technology charged grandkids are asking their smartphones more than they are them.  But technology has a habit of breaking down traditions only to build them back up again for the new age.

Grandparents will always have knowledge but like most of us these days they might have to make a few adjustments to get through to the newly connected youth.

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Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by Paul Nickerson - Writer

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