Phones: How Young? 3, 4, 5, 6, ?

Author: Stephen Heppell, speaking 16:30, 1/31 @ExCel centre

Many parents will find themselves in a debate about phones: can I have one? what sort should it be? how old is old enough? what should I do with it? and more. Some parents might reply with: they are expensive, they might fry your brain, they could be a backdoor to bullying, or maybe at 4 they are simply not appropriate. Cue family tensions and arguments.

Curiously, this precisely mirrors the debates that many parents were engaged in about computers back in the 80s (see this 1985 video for a conference showing children as young as 2 using a Macintosh computer — or this tiny phone sized version of the same video). Computing at 2 was seen as radical at the time. Of course, what matters is what you do with the computer. This is why with Tom Smith (who was the illustrator) I wrote a little booklet for the BBC, and we filmed a series of TV programmes, both entitled “Help your child with computers at home”. Today those debates are over (although access and equity remain problems for policymakers). The curriculum, and mainstream media like the BBC, now expect that many children will have computers pre-school and will use them for useful learning and enjoyment activities.

Education: A New Frontier

Author: Kay Hooghoudt, Atos, who will be presenting his thoughts on the future of technology in education at Bett, on Thursday 31 January 2013, at 10.40-11.10 in the Platinum Suite.

The world of education is evolving. Books and chalkboards no longer dominate the teacher’s toolkit, nor do students simply sit in the classroom and just listen to the teacher or professor, as they have been doing for decades. Instead, the 21st Century education model requires a different approach and while this will in turn lead to both challenges and new opportunities on a massive scale, it is safe to say that the sector as a whole will never be the same again.

I believe that a key driver behind this change is the rise of digital technology, with online research, collaboration via social media and flexible use of smart devices all on the up and in turn, changing the way in which we acquire knowledge. This is the essence of the learning process and this new found connectivity to the wider online world has led to a more digitally-savvy and knowledgeable younger generation.

Unleash the Benefits of Technology Beyond the School Gates


Author: James Betts, managing director of Kudlian Software

Today children are exposed and accustom to using technology that only a few years ago was inconceivable. However, the childhood sense of adventure and getting your hands dirty is still very important when it comes to schools trips and learning outside of the classroom. I firmly believe that technology tools should be used to enrich outdoor learning but not overpower it. It is far more beneficial for children to work together and, for example, build a sandcastle on the beach than sketch one on their iPad. It is important to strike a balance between the old and the new in order to get the best learning experience. Technology can be a huge support when it comes to field trip projects.