This is not going to be a rant about how we all have our faces stuck in our phones. As I said in an earlier post, I am a geek. I love technology. I am fascinated with things like the psychological effects of technology. We are in the midst of a revolution in the way we communicate, produce, and manage the stuff of daily living. These shifts in daily life will rival the changes of the Industrial Revolution. Andrew McAfee is a professor at MIT. He points out that the Industrial Revolution multiplied our physical capacity as humans. This Yet-to-be-named technological Revolution is multiplying our mental capacity as humans. ( TED Radio Hour Podcast, 2/28/2014 )
I hear, "That's
nice. So what does that mean to me as a
parent?" Well, right at this moment your child might have their head stuck in some sort of device - iphone, tablet, laptop, etc. Whatever it is, it's here
to stay; and not just for gaming either.
If your child is in upper elementary school, they probably use a device
to read. They might also use it to
communicate with friends. (Just for fun,
ask your child to remember the last time they talked to a friend on a land line
phone. Next ask them to remember the
last time they used a cell phone or a text app for the same purpose.) Moreover, while we all weren't paying
attention, many schools have made it impossible to do schoolwork without using
the internet. Does your child still
receive a paper report card? Probably
You can either throw up your
hands and think, "I have no control over this so why even deal with
it" or "I have no clue about any of this stuff, so I'm going to
ignore it" or "This all makes me very nervous so I am going to
restrict my child's access as much as I can." I'm going to argue here that none of these approaches is going to help you, or your child live with technology mindfully. Your children must learn that
skill in order to be a successful adult.
So how to do that? Well, for starters you really need to know
what's up with the technology. Every
once and awhile I give myself a reality check in a third grade classroom. I'll ask, "In the last couple of weeks
how many of you have helped Mom and Dad with something on the computer that
they couldn't figure out?" Most of
the time 3/4 of the hands go up.
Millenials are the first generation that have known more about new
technology than their parents. "Oh,
I know about computers", you say.
"I built my own. Set up my own wifi network. I can
program." Yep. Can you tell me the hottest phone app right
now? Have you used Instagram at
all? Or Twitter? Or Snapchat?
Can you get to a document in Dropbox?
The days of Microsoft Office as the most important thing are over. Those that came of age in the last 15 years
have moved on.
On the opposite end of the
spectrum I might hear, "I can get to my email and I can text, but I can't
really do anything else. I don't really
want to know more." It's time to
get more literate. At the very least,
you need to be able to comfortably access every tool your child needs to use
for school. Online grades, Edmodo, Khan
Academy, Blackboard, Moodle, Weebly, Quizlet, Prezi; whatever they are
using. No excuses. You need to understand what they have to do
for school. This is especially true in
In the next installment, I
will explain in more detail why this is important and offer some tips on using
these tools mindfully.
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