This morning there was an article you should not miss in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine section.
YOUNG AND WIRED
Computers, cell phones, video games, blogs, text messages -- how will the sheer amount of time spent plugged in affect our kids? by Kathrine Seligman
It is about how kids today are screen saturated-spending time in front of screens on an average over 6 hours a day. It addressed the issue of multi-tasking in a balanced way quoting both people who thought it was dangerous for kids and kids themselves who talked about why they do it and how there are times when they choose not to multi-task in order to concentrate differently. It also addressed the issue of collaboration or being isolated by the computer and several kids told about how they feel MORE connected to others when online and lonely when not online. It also mentioned the fact that some kids spend lots of time on the computer socializing in the safety of home rather than going out to unsafe neighborhoods!
It confirmed for me the HUGE importance of all educators and parents understanding technology so that they can help guide students in their use of it. There will always be REALLY sharp kids who self-adjust to new things and learn to multi-task well when it is appropriate and who are careful about being safe online. There will always be those kids who will never listen and will waste their time with useless online time and not make any effort to be safe or careful. But the vast majority of kids falls in the middle. They do not need us to restrict access or to keep them offline for their own safety. They are like ME... they want to do the right thing (not the same for everyone), but they will not necessarily figure it out for themselves. They really need us to help them evaluate the ways that they use their time and the effects that their participation in the online world might have. They need good teachers to do what they have always done best which is to inspire them to be the best they can be. How can we do that if we don't get it ourselves?