In our May 25th ECMP 355 class we had a guest speaker, Alec Couros. Alec spoke about our children and tech. He brought up some great points that we as teachers need to think about, such as do we allow smartphones in class, how young is too young for tech, do we allow tech to be the teacher or should it just be another tool we use. This techy new culture is sometimes very difficult for an old tech person like me to wrap my mind around.
I come from an era when film and filmstrip projectors, overheads and chalkboards were still the tools of choice in schools. There was never any issue of whether phones would
be used in class, they were attached to the wall at home or in the school office. Participation in school was raising your hand if you knew the answer or desperately trying to either hide behind a book or look like you knew enough so the teacher wouldn’t call on you if you didn’t. Connected to your friends you either called them from your phone that everyone in the house used or you walked to their house and rang the door bell. You hung out face to face. In some ways I think that was better. However tech is changing the world. Tech has its good, bad and ugly sides especially for our teens .
The good part of tech is that it allows us to access so much more information on all levels. We can share things to Youtube and maybe get our 15 minutes of fame if that is what we want or simply share our lives with family and friends. In some cases people get their big break, as did the creators of the wacky wacky song or whatever its called. We can be connected and participate in each others lives more than ever before but…
Are we losing our connection to the people in front of us because we are so caught up in checking to see what our hundreds or even thousands of friends think about what we said or posted online. I came across this article about Instagram likes and why they don’t matter, it is very interesting. We see many pictures of groups of people out together supposedly having a good time but they are all on their phone, interacting with someone else. What does that say to the people you are with. There seems to be an increase in mental health issues as this nurse shares, among young people, and it makes me wonder is it connected to the positive or negative feedback they get from their thousands of” friends”. Or is it through technology we have more awareness or is it a combination. I personally think there is a connection. Teens mostly but even adults want approval from their peers and if they don’t get it its hard. It makes it even harder when you think you have all these friends and you don’t get the approval level you think you should. The school peer groups had power to make someone’s day or make their life miserable but it was usually left at school. The good and bad now go on incessantly. This form of peer pressure and bullying comes with bigger consequences.
As teacher’s how to we manage this culture of participation, when we want everyone to see and approve of what we are doing. I think we need to create awareness of the consequences of what we post on line and create understanding of how once its online it maybe there forever. We can also create positive and safe spaces to connect with and participate online. Most of all we need to teach our students that online empathy and standing up for the bullied has the same effects as it does in real life.