We took some surveys to ask parents about kids and technology. Here are their replies about surprising ways kids have used some popular applications and computer programs.
You can have fun with MS Office. One kid used PowerPoint to convince his parents to buy him a game. He also used a bar chart in Excel to show his happiness (10 points for playing soccer; just 5 for being at school).
My daughter gets so many creative ideas from Pinterest. She planned a whole party on her own with those ideas.
When he was eight, he wanted something so he made a PowerPoint presentation — about 10 slides with strong facts as to why we should purchase a game that cost $6.
Use Raspberry Pi to make a really cheap computer!
One of my kids made a castle in Minecraft. He took it really seriously. At his request we researched medieval European castles at the library, learned a lot and had fun. And his castles looked awesome.
My son regularly makes how-to Minecraft videos. He makes short films and posts them. He organizes Skype calls with his friends and they play Minecraft together at the same time. He taught himself to make apps, do screencasts, make his own website for the business he wants to start — tons of stuff. My daughter makes birthday/father's day websites for us, t-shirts, school homework animations with GoAnimate, and how-to videos on how to make homemade pasta.
My daughters have made stop-motion movies, created itineraries for family trips, created group projects with Google Drive, and made presentations on Prezi.
My kids love creating in Minecraft. It's inspired my son to learn about programming and game creation. We subscribe to Dreambox to help my youngest with her math and she loves it. Computer games they play inspire stories they write or make RPG games for.
My kid wanted a dog. She created a presentation in Google Docs. It was awesome.
My kids love watching their sport, acrobatic gymnastics, on YouTube since it's not really covered elsewhere.
My oldest has been focused on transportation, roads, maps and city planning for as long as we can remember. I recently sat down and started playing the Super Nintendo version of SimCity on our Wii with him, and it has completely revolutionized his imaginative play. The cities he builds with blocks and wooden train tracks are much more thought out and complex.
My son has created short games with programs he's found online. He's animated short scenes and wants to make a film. He's created PowerPoint presentations for fun. To him these are just fun games. There is a measure of creativity that can be unleashed through technology that other generations never had access to before. These simple games he plays will prepare him for a world where technology advances in great leaps.
Tech has helped us introduce her to music of all kinds. She has fallen in love with classical performance and despite never taking a dancing class, she has shown an interest in copying the movements of ballet dancers from YouTube clips of the Boston Ballet and other performance groups.