Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Be the Zen Master

The Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) has invited me to speak about Internet usage and safety among children. The lecture is titled "Web 2.0: What Our Children Are Doing On the Web in 2007." To prepare, I sent out an email to the parents attending inviting them to send me their questions in advance so I could make sure to address them. Most of the questions I received fell within the bounds of what I already intended to cover: Webkinz, IM, Club Penguin etc. There's a great New York Times article Will Richardson, over at Weblogged, posted on his site about the new phenomenon of our youngest children on social networks.

One of the parents sent an email that made me nod my head in understanding, and with compassion--he hates (a strong word, I know) the role that technology is playing in his child's life. He doesn't want his child to grow up in the Web 2.0 world. He wants his child to read books, understand those books on an intellectual level, to play outside and to NOT WANT A GAMEBOY. I feel for this parent. His face blends in with the faces of so many other educated, wise, yet incredibly fearful parents who have grabbed my arm tightly as they can, cutting off the circulation, begging me to justify why they should let their child online. And I say to that parent: you can stand in front of a giant tidal wave rushing toward your child and try, just try as hard as you can, to save your child by holding him or her down under the crush of the water. Or, you can turn around, scoop her up in your arms and show that little girl how to swim. Maybe you think it's too early for them to learn. It doesn't really matter when there's a tidal wave coming, does it?

(Image link)

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