What’s popular with 7 year olds these days?

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Image Source: http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/

Following on from my fascinating interview with a small group of 6 and 7 year olds, I decided to interview them more comprehensively on what exactly they believed were the most popular things for 7 year old girls in 2014 and created a Pinterest board.  There was a lot of consensus, it seems that most 7 year olds in my class like almost exactly the same things.  Many of these interests are no doubt indicative of our Western consumerist society and the might of the marketing departments of multinational corporations.  Take a look at this Pinterest board and see what you think.

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iPads in Schools

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Image source: http://www.cartoonaday.com/back-to-school-cartoon-twitter-and-ipad-cartoon/

I started working at a new school in July of this year and was surprised to discover that all of the students in the school, from Prep to Year 12, were assigned an iPad.  I currently teach Year 1 and this is the first year that all of the children have received an iPad so it has been a learning journey for both the teachers and the students.  At first, like most of the teachers at the school, I was a little apprehensive about how iPads would fit into the classroom.  I was also worried about the health risks of too much screen time for young, developing children and whether the iPads would take away from more social and interactive activities and group work.  Much obviously depends on each individual teacher and how they choose to integrate the technology but with time I find that the iPads are becoming an essential classroom tool.  When every child has an iPad, the way you teach fundamentally changes.  Learning becomes personalised in a way that is often otherwise not possible in a busy classroom.

My favourite aspect of using the iPad with young children is the way that a voice is given to those children who have learning difficulties and/ or find writing challenging.  Tasks previously often required a written response meaning that the better writers excelled rather than the deeper thinkers.  Now the children are adept at responding to questions in different ways and often opt to record their voice or film themselves when e.g. giving a response to a text.  Whereas previously I tried to plan for and encourage thinking skills, this is now very clearly the focus and goal in my classroom.  Children that have not yet developed their fine motor skills sufficiently to be able to write at length, children on the autism spectrum that dislike writing, children with dyslexia and children that simply don’t like writing, are not held back because of it.

This is not to say that writing is not still a huge focus in Year 1, the children do write every day and understand that this is a skill that they must learn.  The difference is that where once school was heavily biased towards those that could express their ideas in written form, now, with the introduction of technology, the balance is shifting towards those that can develop and express their ideas through a variety of different mediums.

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Interview with a young person

As someone who currently teaches 6 and 7 year old girls, I thought I would use this assignment to check in with the children’s current interests and text choices.  Many of their answers were predictable, such as the unwavering popularity of the movie Frozen but others were more surprising.  An overwhelming majority of the 6 and 7 year old girls interviewed had a mild addiction to Candy Crush which they admitted to playing on their mum’s phones whenever they got the opportunity.  Another surprise was the popularity of the television show, The Big Bang Theory, something that I had previously thought appealed to older audiences.  It is worth mentioning that all of the girls have a school iPad and are therefore au fait with technology.  They are not however allowed to add their own apps.

Here is a summary of an interview with a group of 6 and 7 year old girls:

What are your favourite books?

Everyone: Disney Frozen books, Fancy Nancy, Angelina Ballerina, Pearly and the Park Fairy.

Cassie: I really like EJ12 books.

Do you enjoy reading or do you only read because you have to?

Julia: I love reading!  Reading makes me happy.  Sometimes I read the same books lots of times, especially bedtime books.

Madi: I like reading when I feel like it but I don’t like it when mum makes me read to her.

Alex:  I like reading to myself, I don’t like it when I have to read out loud.

What are your favourite movies?

Everyone: Frozen, Brave, Despicable Me.

Why do you like these movies so much?

Everyone: The songs!

Alex: They make me feel happy.

Julia: I imagine that I am the main character.

Madi: They’re just really good.  Everyone likes them.

What do you like to watch on television?

Everyone: Disney channel, Nickelodeon.

Madi: I really like The Big Bang Theory.

Everyone: I love The Big Bang Theory!  This started a discussion of the different characters and how funny it was.

Do you have any favourite apps?

Everyone: Subway Surfer!  Cue excited discussion

Madi: Yeah, Subway Surfer’s awesome!  And Minion Rush is really good too!

Everyone:  Yes!  Minion Rush is excellent!

Alex: I always play Candy Crush on my mum’s phone.  This caused a huge discussion where the girls talked about how much they loved it and they had to play it every night, often in the car while mum was driving.

How much time do you think you spend on apps?

Alex: I don’t know.  I usually use mum’s phone in the car but I’m only allowed to play on the iPad at weekends.

Madi: I secretly take my home iPad into bed with me and play games under the doona when I’m meant to be asleep!

Cassie: I think I only spend a few minutes every day.

Julia:  I can only go on my iPad at weekends as well but I always just use my mum or dad’s phone to play apps instead.

What do you use the internet for at home?

Everyone: YouTube.

Madi: I look for pictures to put on as a background on my iPad,

Alex: I like to watch Minecraft tutorials.

What do you watch on YouTube?

Cassie: my brother always puts funny clips on that make me laugh.

Madi: Yeah, I like to watch funny things on YouTube.

Julia: My dad puts songs on for me to dance to and sometimes I watch the videos.  I love Katy Perry.

Everyone: Yes, music videos on YouTube are good and Katy Perry is really good.

Do you use any other apps or the internet for anything else?

Julia:  I use Instagram on my iPod to send pictures to my cousins.

Alex: I love Minecraft.  I always go on that when I can.  My brother helps me.

Cassie:  I use my Nintendo to play Just Dance.  This started a huge discussion about Nintendo and X-Box games.

Everyone: I love Just Dance, Just Party, Super Mario Karts.

Are there any other things that are popular with 7 year olds at the moment?

Everyone: loom bands!

Cassie: I make loom bands all the time.  My sister shows me how to.

Alex: I’m really good at making loom bands now.

Julia: I have hundreds of different colours.  I have some glow in the dark ones!

This interview was really interesting and provoked a lot of enthusiasm and discussion.  It was interesting to learn more about the girls’ interests at home as well as finding out about the time they secretly spent on mum and dad’s phone and on their iPads without their parents being aware!

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Social Media

I woke up this morning chewing over in my mind the potential contents of my very first blog post. Perhaps I could begin by reflecting on the fabulous work of Cory Doctorow and the implications of copyright law in the information age. Or the fascinating issues raised by Henry Jenkins on his weblog. Whilst pondering these ideas, I made myself a cup of coffee and logged into my Facebook account. It was then that the topic I needed to discuss raised its ugly head and tipped my world slightly off balance.  An absolute stranger had posted photographs onto my wall, showing my ex (not a FB friend!) doing things I would rather not know.  Not the best start to the day then.

The report, Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives, presents findings on the impact that social media is having on the lives of young people. Whereas my friends and I feel blessed that we grew up in a time when our wild, reckless years were not published for the world to see, young people today are reportedly enjoying living their lives in the spotlight. This infographic of the report summarises the findings.  Overall, teenagers reported largely positive feelings towards social networking but reassuringly stated that they still preferred to meet their friends face to face!  

Interestingly, GlobalWebIndex‘s more recent report for the second quarter of 2014, does report a move away from platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps the increase in use by older generations and the fact that mum and grandma now hold Facebook accounts means that they are no longer appealing forums for the young. Or perhaps young people are heeding the warnings relating to privacy on the web and the impact that digital footprints can have.  Instead, messaging app Snapchat saw the largest rise in use amongst teens and it is not difficult to see why. The appeal of being able to send messages and photographs that will disappear within ten seconds means that they are less likely to get into the wrong hands or leave a lasting digital footprint.  Tumblr, instagram and YouTube are also reported as the only platforms where 16-24 year olds form the largest share of active users.

Whilst the demographic of Facebook users may be ageing, even oldies like me are shifting over to Whatsapp and Viber as our preferred forms of communication.  Within the last year a number of my friends have either closed their Facebook accounts entirely or have a far less active online presence than they used to.  When I first joined Facebook I happily posted status updates and photographs of holidays etc but in the past few years, the issue of the digital footprint and privacy online means that I only post to my account infrequently and I am very wary of publishing any new photographs or personal information.

 

Common Sense Media (2012). Social media, social life: How teens view their digital lives http://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/social-media-social-life (46 pages total; Key Findings pp. 9-12).

Global web index: Q2 2014. Retrieved August 24, 2014, from GlobalWebIndex.com: http://insight.globalwebindex.net/gwi-social-q2-2014

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