Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reactionary or Visionary or Just Plain Scared Cyber Parenting?

I recently spoke to a small group of parents at a DC middle school and present in the room was some righteous indignation. It's an enjoyable experience for me to hear a concerned parent share his or her views about cyberparenting from a radical perspective. Lots of parents are happy to be in the middle, going along with the crowd. As I learned from this fascinating article by Dr. Agarwal "Why Some Human Brains Become Leaders While Others Followers" on BrainBlogger, constructive and reflective intelligence are not easily found in people. At most of my talks about parenting in the age of social media, there is usually one, or maybe two, who espouse the notion that it's okay to ban social media altogether. The jaded, edtech professional in me often nods my head agreeably when they talk, all the while thinking "your kid is using it outside the home whether you know it or not." This is mostly because I read articles like "Web the Web Kids" and it seems like it is just so much a part of the fabric of our children's lives that there is no way they are not speaking in their native tongue at some time or another, despite being told, like Native Americans were told by white settlers, that they could not do so.

However, upon reflection, I think that maybe there is another space, another way. Last night, I had a parent who felt it would be a good idea to just jump in the pool with the kids and have some fun. Yes, do that. The other parent asked every other parent in the room, can't we just let them have regular phones without the smart features? I'll say, all they need is an iPod Touch and they pretty much have the same thing; it's not really about the phone, but she kind of piqued my interest. Is there a space in between elementary school and high school where we can and should limit their exposure to these tools or ban them altogether because they are such an emotionally vulnerable group at this age? There's no doubt that the technology tools make it easier to be mean to each other--what they're doing online is just a mimic of their real lives and it's normal to be mean to one another at this age. However, maybe it's important to have a "time-out" where they become literate in face-to-face social conflict before we allow them to immerse themselves fully in online social life. It won't necessarily translate to better online behavior (look at adult behavior online!) but maybe it will allow us adults to get a word in edgewise between the spaces. Just a thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How did I not see this before today? I would love to hear more about this conversation. The more I give the talk on this topic, the more I am for limiting the use, not only for the legal ramifications, but for the social-emotional ones as well. I want childhood to last as long as possible and while there is social-emotional value in social media, I feel like balance is so incredibly important. Let's talk soon about this edtech guru!!