One of my early influences in educational technology is Will Richardson who was the first prominent educator to write about the use of digital tech in classrooms. In a recent blog post, Will talked about the very early days of the Internet for the general public, going back to 1996. I began experimenting with the Internet myself in the early 90s and I was one of the few in my building with a dial up connection as I taught middle school social studies and literacy. I was using a 2400 baud modem (the ones that made the “fax-like” noises to log on) and this was in the days before browsers. Truly, it was exciting just to tap into Associated Press news or even the card catalog at UNH. It was a powerful time for the Internet as everything was new and fairly innocent. Do you remember “Archie”, “Veronica”, and FTPing? Nothing came automatically in those days but there was mystery and discovery in every action.
Fast forward more than 20 years and we have an Internet that has great upside certainly, but is also filled with great hazards. Wireless signals are in nearly every home and connected with a tablet, kids have access to everything the Net has to offer. Do me a favor…please check out this article on Common Sense Media entitled “How much screen time is OK for my kids?” There’s some great links to other articles too.
Based on my own experience, I am also concerned with how much news is playing on the television in our homes. In one of my second-grade classrooms this week, there was discussion about North Korea and the nuclear threat we potentially face which scared some of our kids. While I am certainly supportive of students understanding current events, we have to be keenly aware of the developmental stage of our children and what is appropriate for their young ears and eyes. I know I had the 6 p.m. news on way too much when my kids were young. I was thinking that was “safe” TV at the time.
Navigating our era of instant information is perhaps hardest for parents of young children and I don’t envy their challenge, but we always want to be supportive. Simple advice: become informed, be vigilant at home, talk to your kids regularly, and limit screen time.