Chicago kids talk about technology


We gathered a panel of 14 Chicago-area kids between the ages of 7 and 14 to talk about tech. They're growing-up in a digital age and technology has taken over the way they learn, play and communicate. They had some interesting things to say about being raised as techies.


Technology is changing the way that our kids learn, play and interact with others. With a myriad of devices available to them-everything from computers to tablets, smart devices, e-readers and gaming systems-kids are exposed to technology on a daily basis.

So what tools are they using in the classroom? What forms of technology do they use to connect with friends? What about the tricky topic of social media and kids? And how is this next generation planning to use technology to make the world a better place?

We wanted to know the answers to these questions and more, so we reached out to 14 Chicago-area kids between the ages of 7 and 14. Turns out that they had a lot to say. And they are even teaching mom and dad a thing or two when it comes to the newest innovations.


What kinds of technology do you use at home or school?

  • I use desktop and laptop computers for things such as homework, playing games and looking for recipes. I also have my own cell phone and an iPod. Gabriel
  • Laptop, desktop, iPad mini, cell phone and video games. Kendall
  • Since I go to a Montessori school, we really don't use computers until fourth, fifth and sixth grade. Grace
  • At home I use my iPod Touch, my Kindle Fire, the Wii, my mom's iPad and the computer. At school we use iPads, laptops and regular computers. We also use Smart Boards a lot. My Kindle Fire is really useful because you can read books and play games when you are on an airplane and you don't have to carry three heavy books if you are an avid reader. Zoe
  • Laptop computers and tablets. I got a Kindle for Christmas, but I haven't had a chance to set it up yet. I don't have a cell phone even though I really want one. My parents sometimes let me play on their phones. Megan
  • At school we use laptops and Smart Boards. At home, I use my iPod, cellphone, desktop, the Wii and the Xbox. Ariadna
  • At home I use an iPod Touch, tablets, video games, a computer and my mom's Kindle. Jakob
  • I use an iPod, desktop computer, Kindle Fire, DS, Wii and Samsung Galaxy S2. Guillermo
  • At home I have a MacBook Pro, an iPod, a cell phone, and lots of gaming devices (Xbox, PS3, Wii, PSVita and Nintendo 3DS). At school we use the school computers, iPads and iPods, and we have an interactive whiteboard in each of our classrooms called Promethean Boards instead of chalkboards. Christian


How do you use technology in your schoolwork?

  • Sometimes we have to make a PowerPoint presentation at school. Other times we research on the computer or I type up a report. Megan
  • My school provided me with a laptop that I use to type assignments, do research, create keynote presentations and the laptop is also used daily in class. Sean
  • We work with Google Drive so that many people can work on the same document. Ariadna
  • We use Edmodo, a secured social learning network. It is where we share schoolwork and homework and discussions with our teachers and classmates. We get our homework and grades there, too. We also use Google Docs a lot for collaborative work and note-taking in class. Our textbooks are all online and can be accessed from anywhere we have a connection to the Internet. Christian
  • We look up stuff on our mini-laptops, like when we were learning about simple machines we went on and looked up the simple machines game. We could click on something that was a simple machine and we would have to do a mini-essay with like five questions.Alexis
  • I use technology to download assignments and collaborate with groups or partners. Sometimes my math teacher sets up an online meeting the day before a test so we can ask him sample problems we want help with. My history teacher, along with pretty much every other teacher I have, often posts the syllabus and assignments on her website. Isaac


How do you use technology to play games or interact?

  • Texting and Instagram. Kendall
  • I use my iPod Touch to play games with friends such as Word with Friends and Draw Something. Jakob
  • I play Skylanders with my friends. Spencer
  • I go to a website called Moshi Monsters where you adopt an online pet. You can also send messages to friends. Grace
  • I play games on our family computer at home. I also sometimes watch Disney Channel shows on the iPad. Megan
  • I use the computer for interactive gaming such as Wizard 101 to play with my friends and also meet new people. Gabriel
  • I use the PS3 to play games with my friends as well as other people over the Internet. I also use my laptop and desktop to play online games and chat with my friends. Sean
  • With my iPod, I can video chat instead of just instant messaging with my friends. I use Facetime or ooVoo for this. Ariadna


What kinds of social media do you use?

  • None. For some of those, I am not old enough. You have to be 13 to have an account. A police officer came to our school and told us that you can easily get into trouble on most of those sites and she also told us the age requirement. My mom sticks with that. Megan
  • Instagram is the only one. I like it because it gives another way to interact with friends. Kendall
  • I tend to use Facebook and email. I prefer Facebook because it's fast and connects to many people I know (but it's a huge time-waster!). Isaac
  • I don't use any of these, but my mom lets me see her Facebook page and respond to family and friends with her supervision. Guillermo
  • I like Twitter and Facebook, but I don't use them. I hope to have accounts when I get older. Grace
  • I use Facebook, ooVoo and Instagram. Ariadna
  • My mom helps me put pictures and videos of me on Facebook and I post videos of me doing things on YouTube. Spencer


Do your parents put restrictions on how and when you can use technology at home?

  • I can only use my iPad Mini on the weekends and other days when we don't have school. My mom looks at my Instagram account. Kendall
  • Sometimes I email my friends, but usually I don't use my personal devices on the weekdays because I don't have enough time. Zoe
  • I have to ask my mom if I can add a friend's phone number to my phone. I can only play games on my iPod with people my parents know. I'm not allowed to use Google or YouTube without one of my parents. Alexis
  • My parents need to know when I am on the computer and which Internet sites I am visiting. I cannot download anything without permission and I am not allowed to say "yes" when it asks me if I want to buy something or post on Facebook. I also have strict time limits, around 20 minutes a time. My homework has to be done, too. I think those are good rules, but sometimes I just want to play and play. Sometimes it is hard. Megan
  • I get to use them an hour-and-a-half each day. I think it is good to have that rule so you have time to do other things throughout the day. Gabriel
  • I can't follow strange people who randomly send me friend requests. Ariadna
  • I have an iPod Touch that I can only use on weekends for a short time. My mom says it is for my own good. My parents don't let me go on YouTube and I do it anyway sometimes. Grace
  • I can't play games with strangers. I have to download games and music that are appropriate. My dad has to approve them. They limit the amount of time I can be on. Jakob


How could we use technology to make Chicago or world a better place?

  • I wish there was some kind of technology to help gun control. Sean
  • There should be free citywide Wi-Fi! Christian
  • If there were Kindles in all schools, more kids would have access to reading materials and learning apps. Jakob
  • You can use the computer to make a petition like I did for saving manatees. You can use technology to raise money for charity. Alexis
  • Make something that allows kids to communicate with their teacher without actually being at school. Keaira


If you could invent new technology, what would it be?

  • A tablet that would plug into a robot and you could control the robot and it would help you do things like clean your room and play video games with you. Jakob
  • I would love to have a fortune-telling device that is never wrong. Megan
  • A gym shoe that is connected to all of my devices that can detect the amount of energy and charge my devices with the amount of movement that I make. My parents would be happy that I'm moving more and my iPod would never run out of battery! Christian
  • A cheap computer that is really portable that you could fit into your pocket with an iPod Touch-sized screen and a miniscule keyboard. It would be cheap so that it would be a school supply that kids could bring to school daily. Zoe


Have you taught your parents how to use any technology?

  • I taught them how to customize desktops. Kendall
  • I've taught my mom a lot of things about the iPad, including where the volume is. Megan
  • I introduced my mom to Instagram one day because I know she enjoys taking pictures. Ariadna
  • I was able to program the universal remote before my mom. My mom also does not know how to use the PS3 very well. I always have to show her what to do when we play games. Sean




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