Thanks to my colleague, the mom blogger behind Mamanista, and social media guru Debbie BookstaberUnexpectedly, I got a ticket to attend the annual Sandbox Summit in Cambridge, Massachusetts at MIT on April 17th and 18th, a conference dedicated to the convergence of technology and play.
Well, just going to MIT was an experience in itself as I have never been there. The campus is sprinkled with phenomenal sculpture and architecture by world class artists including Frank Gehry, Louise Nevelson and Alexander Calder, among others. There were approximately two hundred people in attendance, including educators, toy and game developers, child psychologists, digital media producers, MIT students from the school’s renowned Media Lab and more. This year’s theme was 2012 Sandbox Summit, Going Mobile, Going Global: Tracking the Anywhere/Everywhere State of Play.
Jane Gould of Nickelodeon, kicked off the conference with her keynote address on Kids and Mobile technology. Click on the link above to watch a video of her presentation, which includes footage of real kids talking about the tech devices they use and why; much of this information is affirmative as I am cognizant of the role tech plays from watching my own kids as well as my nieces and nephew. Like me, I think many parents have mixed feelings about how immersed their kids are in technology. It is ubiquitous, especially when you consider that most kids play on their own or a shared mobile device these days, but is it always necessary, AND how much does it take away from traditional play time?
The way mobile apps are reshaping toys and learning is also explored here in a Sandbox Summit review on CNet.
A dominant theme was the importance of creating digital content that encourages children to express themselves and to give their own input as they play. “Technology alone isn’t a magic bullet,” noted Carla Seal-Wanner, Director of Education and Curriculum, FlickerLab. “There is a need for integrated content. Kids want to have a personal relationship with media and make it their own … they have come to expect that now.”
Sandbox Summit was launched in January 2008 by Claire Green and Wendy Smolen to address how technology affects the ways kid play, learn, and connect.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on finding the right balance between tech time and (traditional) play time for your kids.