Lifting up the next generation

Innovations and research that help us ensure the health and growth of today’s children
The winning team of the Hack@Tal hackathon hard at work. (Michael Erenburg)

I often think about who my nieces and nephews will become when they are adults. The thing I realized about this thought experiment is that there are infinite ways their lives can go. We live in a time where the health of and support for newer generations is improving and kids are being taught and given the tools and skills necessary for them to thrive. Every step of a child’s journey into adulthood is impactful, so the more we know about our kids now, the more we can support them as they change and grow. Because there is new technology and information coming out, we know more about our kids than ever before. With these resources, we are able to pay attention to our kids’ needs and provide stability and support in their growth.

Innovations are being made to support pediatric health starting the moment a child is born. Safra Children’s Hospital and a med-tech startup, Datos Health, partnered up to create a way to monitor and treat infants remotely from home. This technology is an attempt to provide more accessible and better healthcare for the children and their families. Monitoring babies who were born with heart malformations largely plays a role in improving their chances of recovery, but the technology provides more than just support for their physical health. Infants are aware of their surroundings and studies have shown that babies as young as six months old can show signs of empathy. This heart monitoring technology is a way of providing support for their physical health, but also making sure they can feel safe and secure through the process. The earliest part of a child’s life is a hugely important milestone for them developmentally, so creating a comfortable environment for infants is essential to their growth. Now, there are even preventative studies to combat potential health problems for kids. Some pediatricians use AI and predictive parameters to help parents create a holistic treatment plan for their infants so they don’t develop food allergies and eczema later on. New innovations and studies are helping improve the ways we support our kids because we now have the information to provide the best care and environment for them to grow into healthy young people.

Part of providing support and a stable environment is introducing kids to topics and activities at certain ages to shape their growth. Kids need to be stimulated by and engaged in activities so that they can improve their critical thinking skills. For example, a book-filled childhood has been shown to decrease the likelihood of later cognitive decline. The years where a child is learning and absorbing their surroundings are incredibly important and make a lasting impact, so it is essential to expose them to the material they need as they mature. As we continue to understand what is best for our kids, we have the opportunity to positively influence them and give them the materials and methods needed for them to succeed.

As technology plays a bigger role in our everyday lives, the way we educate our children has changed. Some programs have emerged in schools to encourage kids to be involved in computer science. Gvahim (Heights) and Magshimim (Accomplish) are programs in Israel that have been a part of this effort to engage kids from ages 12 to 18. These programs use a new type of teaching where students overcome challenges on their own so they can work on their critical thinking skills. This style of teaching focuses more on the process of learning itself and not on the achievement of test taking. Education is adjusting to let kids experience how to fail rather than just how to succeed later on in order to prepare them for the world after school.

In Israel specifically, there is a big focus on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship and there are a lot of opportunities, even for kids, to build websites and work on startups where these styles of learning can be useful. One of these opportunities that has emerged in Israel is StartupSeeds. StartupSeeds is a community of entrepreneurial Israeli teens that started in 2007 to encourage kids with a desire to learn how to code to start and work on projects with the support of a community, tools and a platform. StartupSeeds director, Saar Cohen, says that “kids are encouraged from an early age to think on their feet” so the value of adjusting how we approach teaching and influencing kids is incredibly important to prepare them for succeeding in the real world.

Our kids are the future leaders of our world and they have the ability to be or create anything they want. All we have to do is give them the best chance they have to get there. We have started to invest in the future of our kids and as new innovations and research continue to emerge, we have the opportunity to use our understanding of our children to provide the best support possible.

Groundbreaking Israel content is developed by ISRAEL21c’s Digital Ambassadors.

Eliza Aretz is a student majoring in psychology at University of Central Florida. After college they hope to pursue a career in clinical psychology.

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