The current edition of the International Journal of Learning and Media has an article entitled Limiting Screen Time Is Not the Key to Parenting in the Digital Age (here, PDF, five pages). It is written by Jeremy Sarachan.
I am reading this on a day that there are two, possibly conflicting reports in media in Ireland, regarding the use of digital photography in schools in Ireland.
- From the Irish Independent: Schools ban photos to stamp out cyber bullies (here)
- From Morning Ireland, our national broadcaster’s breakfast-time radio-programme: Never too young to learn about film, where school-students use of phones, in filming their own poetry was advocated (here)
I am very much with Sarachan who advocates……a more nuanced approach to media use by children (p.2).
Digital technology is here to stay and banning bits and pieces of it, whether at home or in school is simply not going to work.
Schools may feel self-satisfied that photos are not randomly taken in their school but will that really protect children? I don’t believe so.
Children need to be educated regarding technology.
Saracham quotes from two digital-thinkers I frequently cite, Mimi Ito and Howard Rheingold.
Ito argues that technology is here to stay, so get on with using it – of course there are negatives but they are not a reason to ban the technology.
Rheingold advocates mindfulness, thinking about what we are doing with technology, using what he cheerfully calls our crap detection skills (video below) which I believe, which must be taught to children.
I think a huge issue within the Irish education system, is that there are few enough educators with the confidence to teach about crap detection and all the other skills required to live a life creatively online.
This is very serious for a country that is fast becoming a serious player in the Head-quartering of social-media in Europe.
Schools best protect children by teaching good lifestyles and good lifestyle choices.
We use aspects of social-media in Portmarnock Community School, to put our best foot forward. Students see this and we hope they copy this behaviour in their own online applications. We teach each year-group about positive online presence, we talk about cyber-bullying in the context of bullying generally.
Yes, of course we don’t allow random photography in school, but we do allow creative photography and are proud when it is represented online or in print.
The best way to protect children is to allow creative and thoughtful expression. When things go wrong we will deal with the issues, but surprisingly we praise more often that we discipline…
The Cartoon above is from the Digital Signage Forum.