How the Internet brings us closer to history than ever before

It’s not uncommon today for parents to walk into schools and libraries and be dazzled by the amount of technology on display. Some are worried by this. Shouldn’t there be more books, more tangible objects? How can kids learn traditional skills in this way? In fact, technology is now making it easier than ever for kids to learn, and in particular, this futuristic equipment is helping them to get closer to the past.

Making history fun

The biggest difficulty described by kids who struggle with history is feeling connected to the past and imagining it as real. When it only seems to exist in books, this can compound the problem. However, thanks to the internet, it’s now much easier to bring history to life. Children can take virtual walks through historic locations as they would have looked when first in use, and they can play computer games that put them in the shoes of historical characters. They can use 3D technology to explore museums they might never get the chance to visit in real life, and they can do fun quizzes to help what they learn stick in their heads.

Making research easy

As children get older, it’s important for them to learn how to research historical information for themselves so that their education isn’t limited to what can be delivered directly by a teacher. The internet is making it easier than ever to conduct research. Of course, some of what’s online is unreliable, but that also contributes to the learning experience – kids need to get used to the idea that there are more and less reliable sources and that it’s important to cross-reference their findings. This is something that can help them to succeed in all their subjects, and its usefulness in winning arguments with their friends in social media provides extra motivation.

Anyone can own a piece of history

If a child develops an interest in a particular period of history, it’s now easier than ever for them to own a piece of it – something that can be held in the hand, that makes them feel directly connected to the past. This could be a major piece of memorabilia such as those featured on BAE Daily – for example, the Billy the Kid photo currently on Amazon – or it could be something as simple as an old horseshoe that helps spark conversations about early settlers and the way they depended on their animals. There are a great number of such objects out there, with something in every price range.

Personal testimonies

Another way of making history feel immediate and relevant is for children to read the personal testimonies of people who lived through major historical events, such as the American Revolutionary War or the Holocaust. There have always been books out there with stories like this, but the internet makes a much wider range of stories accessible, which makes it easier for kids to find somebody with whom they share a connection – somebody from the same town, perhaps. This makes it easier for them to think about what living through such events would mean to them. It helps them to understand how the past can provide a richer understanding of the world as it is today.

Situating ourselves in history

The very fact that technology is now developing so fast gives today’s children an advantage over everyone who went before them. They can see, even within the space of a few years, that the world is changing. Inviting them to think about how different life was before the latest generation of phones or games consoles is a simple trick but can do a lot to help them understand that history is happening today. They can be encouraged to look to the future as well as thinking about the past, and to think about how people living in the future might perceive them. This helps them to see themselves as part of a long chain of interconnected lives and thus to identify with people who lived in the past.

Home and school

Thanks to the learning opportunities offered by the internet, education doesn’t have to stop when it’s time to go home from school. It’s easier to do homework, and it’s also interesting to explore and find things out on a hobby basis. Parents can do a lot to encourage this by helping their children to explore their particular interests. Discovering history can become a family activity, and it can develop into a passion for finding things out that will stay with children throughout their lives.

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