Devices for high-ability children

Technology is a given in today’s world. Without question, personal use of technology will only increase, as the world embraces smart homes, smart cars, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.

Each of these things improves our ability to use our capacity as humans. Researchers like American futurist Ray Kurzweil are doing their best to ensure that these are brought to us sooner rather than later. At the same time, others concerned with our “humanness” are working to ensure that we retain it, by prioritising real human relationships and interactions. This understanding can be enforced at home.

The late Steve Jobs, American technology entrepreneur (and CEO of Apple), was also a parent of four children. Interestingly, Steve and his wife minimised access to technology, in favour of real interaction. In an interview with The New York Times in 2014, Steve commented on his children and the new iPad: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Instead, Steve would discuss books and history with them during dinner, taking the time to foster real relationships. Devices were not welcome at the dinner table.

Plentiful research exists about children being addicted to screens, investing significant time every week staring at smart phones, tablets, computers, and televisions. However, that screen time can be used constructively.

Even though technology is increasing at an exponential rate (and it wouldn’t be useful listing current tech as we advance so quickly!) here are some general practical applications. 

— Excerpt from Bright, (pp. 208-209).

Be safe when receiving data

Filter incoming data including ads. Free services like AdGuardDNS provide safe incoming data, as well as blocking ads (ads can account for several GB of data per month, and they are also invasive to children’s mental health). Implement something like this free DNS server at your router only, or at each device (wireless only, not 3G/4G).
https://adguard.com/en/adguard-dns/overview.html

Turn on restrictions. The iOS interface is outlined here:
https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201304

Be safe when sending data

Cover your device cameras. Both front-facing and rear-facing cameras on iPads and tablets should be covered with a small square of electrical tape. Test this by trying to use the camera, and ensure there is a black screen.

Teach your child to never give out personal details in forms. This might be limited to first name only, for example. Certainly do not give out address, phone number, and other identifiable information.

Track your device

Track your device. Use inbuilt services like Apple’s ‘Find my iPhone’, or consider more robust free services like ManageEngine MDM.
https://support.apple.com/en-au/explore/find-my-iphone-ipad-mac-watch
https://www.manageengine.com/products/desktop-central/

Applications for high-ability children

Khan Academy: free online learning platform sponsored by Bill Gates. Used by over 90% of my gifted coaching clients.
www | iOS | Android

Prodigy Math Game: Popular maths “gamification”
www | iOS

Adapted Mind Maths and Reading: Popular maths and reading “gamification”
www

Brainpop and Brainpop Junior: American-centric, but great content and pedagogy.
www (Brainpop for G4-G12) | www (Brainpop Jr for K-G3)

Wikipedia for Kids: safe search of Wikipedia (simple)
www

WolframAlpha: by quintessential researcher Stephen Wolfram.
www | iOS | Android

NASA app
www (Youtube) | iOS | Android

Minecraft: sandbox construction video game, super-popular with high-ability children (used by 58% of Australian Mensan students!)
www | iOS | Android