I saw an article shared on social media recently that got my back up. You know the kind. Technology-blaming, pretending it’s ok to keep it at arm’s length & to have no active hand in shaping how kids come to interact with it. Also loving to complain about the way kids use it unguided. Attitudes like that never like being told you only get to pick one side of that situation.
By itself, it’s the kind of stuff you expect to see published. But it was shared by a teacher and parent. Neither job gets done properly pretending reality will go away.
Anyway, I threw my hat in the ring.
“This is the kind of ignorant scaremongering you often see written by people who don’t actually use tech themselves, and feel threatened by the fact that the world looks different to how it did 30 years ago. Kids glued to iPads aren’t slaves to screens, they’re unwitting prisoners of lazy parents.
The biggest danger with tech in kids’ hands is how many parents think it’s perfectly ok to throw their hands in the air, proclaim not to know anything about technology and have a little chuckle about it – until their kid’s on the receiving end of some fiery adolescent vitriol, or nosing around the red-lit racier corners of the web. That’s not external threat, that’s straight out negligence.
Unguided and unmentored, kids will make mistakes. Kids will also play for ages with stuff that’s designed to be fun and engaging – look at Lego’s longevity.
The opportunities that exist to do beautiful, rich, complex things with technology alongside physical world play are absolutely colossal.
The answer is to actually take a look at it from that perspective, as in “how might I find a physical counterpart to this digital playground of interest?”
If they’re always on Minecraft, take ’em for a drive out to a small town full of old buildings & talk them through the architecture. Always on Instagram? Get in the kitchen with them & read up on food styling.
Articles like this advocate sticking heads in the sand and taking lessons from North Korea on how to manage access to the Internet. This is not a productive approach – in the words of Philip K Dick, “reality denied comes back to haunt.” They’ll find it someday, and with no previous experience, the drug abuse analogy will shift from that of addiction to that of overdose.
Teach kids to use it constructively, and show them the worth in putting it away.”