I recently listened to a recent podcast on technology by The Practically Perfect Podcast, and heard two divergent points from Lora Brawley and Sue Downey.
Here is a summary of the views from my perspective (Lora and Sue can feel free to disagree, of course!):
- Lora spoke a lot about how technology can often be a distraction and another barrier that gets in the way of adult and child interactions
- Sue spoke of technology as a supplement and mentioned instances where technology can play a supplemental role to reinforce education
To some extent, I agree with Lora in that technology is sometimes a barrier to interaction. However, having worked as educator, the adults in a child’s life act as a role model of how technology can be beneficial. There are parents that, yes I agree, will leave their children with an iPad or a phone without curbing screen time, however technology and its promise is a neutral space. It is as beneficial or harmful as the adult who raises the child.
When talking about technology and screen time, I often think about the debates that nutritionists and parents have about food choices in schools. There are two prevailing views in the media:
- Fatty foods in school lunches are BAD and parents who fed their children any certain foods were, as a result, parenting badly.
- The push-back from some parents was,”How dare you tell me how to raise my kid, I will decide what is good and bad for our child!”
Sadly, each of those views misses the mark. We miss an opportunity with the ongoing food debate to have a bigger discussion about moderation and making conscious choices to eat healthy foods and less-healthy foods in a balanced way. We also fail to talk about other contributing factors to childhood diabetes or obesity outside of the cafeteria.
Likewise, the discussion that we have about technology must go beyond the black and white. We have a huge learning opportunity and we can grab it by :
- Educating children and young adults to make decisions that protect their physical and online selves from harm.
- Having a discussion about what is most beneficial and educational online. The best resources are usually those that come from independent sources such as educators, rather than for-profit corporations that push products.
- Reading up on and understanding laws that regulate apps and social media aimed at children, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
As a former teacher I know that technology holds a lot of promise in the right context. In this dawn of apps and social media, the best defense is a good offense. Take the time to learn about the technology from the children that use it. Let’s strategize WITH kids and NOT for kids about when technology can be beneficial, when it can be harmful and how to think critically about their choices. Tell us what do you think?
Thanks for the podcast Lora and Sue!