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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Children and Technology

I've been subbing at a school with a 1-1 technology program. If you're not familiar with that, a 1-1 program is where each child has their own laptop to use during school and at home for homework. It's a really cool idea, and it allows the kids to interact with technology, submit assignments online or through e-mail, access internet resources. Like I said, it's a really cool idea.

Most teachers are very good about enforcing the rules regarding the use of technology. Some teachers only use the computers for one or two activities during class time, while some teachers use online sites for all of their lessons and even homework. One teacher actually had all his students get a Twitter account so they could communicate and have discussions online.

I understand that technology is a great tool, and that our students will need to have a good grasp of technology and computer science to do well in the workplace.


I'm not so sure that so much technology is a good thing for our kids.

Sure, there are many blocked sites on the school's network to protect the kids. Of course, YouTube isn't blocked (there are lots of educational clips!), Twitter isn't blocked (for discussion purposes!), and news sites aren't blocked (current events are good for social awareness!).

Keep in mind, YouTube also has lots of clips of people doing stupid things, pornographic things, people harming one another.... and the students can post videos of themselves. Singing to popular songs, somewhat seductively, in their bedrooms with a school poster behind them.

Twitter allows students to see the comments of people who are racist, sexist, rude, immoral... and the more offensive the Tweet is, the more popular it becomes. Oh, and the kids have one more place to bully one another. And they're doing it, and getting attention for their cutting, hurtful comments.

News sites are a great, authentic place for current events, but do our 12-year-olds really need to read about sex scandals? About mass murders? Do they need to see images of children who have been horribly disfigured due to Agent Orange exposure? Pictures of aborted babies?

That's what my 7th and 8th graders were doing on the internet this week IN SCHOOL.

And those are just some of the sites that aren't blocked at school. At home, the internet security is up to the parents. Busy, overworked parents who are just sick of hearing their kids complain that the internet isn't working fast enough, that sites they need for homework are blocked, that Mom sucks and should just unblock the web. The sites are constantly changing and evolving. Parents have jobs- how are they supposed to keep up with all the new ways invented to target kids?

We are being so good about giving our children the tools to succeed in a technological world. Are we being nearly as effective at protecting them? At sheltering their innocence for as long as possible? 8th graders shouldn't have to worry about being bashed online (or worse, having sexual pictures posted of them online). 7th graders shouldn't be exposed to social issues that they're not yet prepared to handle, especially not without a parent to talk to them about what they're learning. We definitely shouldn't have to be concerned that our children may be hurt by some stranger who found them, and all of their important information, online.

Yeah, technology is amazing, has made our lives so much easier, and, let's face it, is fun and interesting. But when it comes to kids, technology can be dangerous.


  1. I teach at a 1:1 school. So far only our 8th graders have computers. This is our first year. I definitely see your points. There has GOT to be a balance when it comes to technology and education. We have found when it comes to blocking sites......the kids always find something else.....so we are just playing whack-a-mole.....so we are instead trying to teach more digital citizenship instead of blocking more and more sites. Loved reading your thoughts on this!

    1. I agree with you there- for every site we block, there are ten more that pop up.

      I think that while it's great to use technology and there are so many amazing, authentic opportunities for educational growth, it's all happened so quickly that we don't always know the risks or detriments. I'm glad that your school is taking a stand on teaching about online citizenship- that's so important!


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