Gen Z – that scarily switched-on group of youngsters aged from 6 to 24 – is already the most technologically saturated generation the world has ever seen.
Even the youngest of Gen Z has already integrated a lot of tech into their lives and in the future almost every profession will require workers to have a solid grasp of technology in some way. All this is frankly a little frightening for parents already battling daily over screen time. So just how do you give your child a good technological grounding that is healthy and productive?
Mum of three Hayley Markham has had to come up to speed more than most through her company Code Camp which inspires and teaches kids aged 5-13 to design and code apps, online games, digital worlds, and websites both after-school and during the school holidays.
Code Camp new winter school holiday offerings
Code Camp recently decided to expand their offerings into dedicated content creation options. “Creating your own content is very important to this generation given their high levels of individuality,” says Hayley. “It’s no longer about just being a follower.”
For the first time, Code Camp in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products will help kids aged 7-12 bring their favourite DC Comics characters of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman to life at the three-day Spark and Ignite Code Camps. Experienced tutors will assist kids to build their own superhero game using DC themed backgrounds and collectibles, special power-ups and even shrinking potions. Kids will use a mix of creative level design, storytelling and problem-solving. Those unable to make an in-person camp can also participate in the online camps.
“Additionally, three new camps have also been launched. YouTube Creators is also about digital content creation and storytelling, but we are then filming the kids’ content and guiding them through video editing and production. DJ Camp focuses on understanding song features, mixing tracks, and they spend some time learning about branding. Whilst our Animation Camp starts with conceiving characters and storylines, and learning stop-motion animation production and video editing.”
‘Good’ screen time habits
Although camps do their best to encourage actual skill development, many parents are already at their wits end when it comes to screens. “This is understandable, but there’s a world of difference between good and bad screen time,” says Hayley. “Good screen time happens when kids are building and creating with screens. They could be taking an online music lesson, designing a party invite on Canva, coding, on a Zoom call with their grandparents, practising their times tables or reading an online book. Kids need to get outside and play but screen time if it’s creative in a relaxed environment is optimal.”
The right way to encourage healthy screen time
The tech entrepreneur says the most important thing parents can do is to get kids to learn with screens. “If kids are already spending many hours on screens, don’t just let them play endless hours of games. Get the kids excited by introducing good programs that have been developed by professionals to entice them to learn new skills whilst having fun. Most skills can now be learned online and that’s a very powerful resource. Videos and tutorials are available and start at the absolute basics.”
Don’t forget about privacy
Hayley says privacy and safety are two very real, important areas. “Educating your child on how to stay safe while online is absolutely imperative. Starting with resources like eSafetykids (https://www.esafety.gov.au/kids) should be mandatory before any child gets online and starts to harness the power of the internet. Family safety programs such as those provided by AIFS (https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/online-safety) are also are great idea for all families.
“Technology is advancing so rapidly that parents turning a blind eye to what’s happening around them won’t do anyone any favours. Yes, screens are a challenge, but every generation has had its challenges. It’s up to parents to be informed and educated on what the best solutions are going forward.”
Check out Code Camp’s list of programs and locations at www.codecamp.com.au