Recently, my emails have been hacked and my PlayStation FIFA 2013 account was compromised! Using technology sometimes comes at a cost.

Technological advances does not equal advanced civilizations…remember the Nubian Dynasty, Aztecs, Mayans, Pharaoh etc.  Okay, so their sacrificing humans at the altar isn’t exactly clever but most Bods (clever people) agree that they were civilizations far superior to us, and there were others too who lived thousands of years ago.  The more we invent, the more we kid ourselves in thinking we are getting more advanced or more civilized. The internet is a great invention but without me writing it, we all know what the number one download sites are!

There are some people who curse technology saying it hasn’t made us civilized at all. I agree, a little. Let’s look at some recent inventions.

The telephone was vilified. Some called it “the instrument of the devil.” The New York Times, in 1876, reported that the telephone will “empty the concert-halls and the churches” as it enables people to listen to lectures, sermons, and concerts from the comfort of their own homes. You can see where the argument was going.

Because the same criticism applied to pretty much all major inventions of the last century. The phonograph was forecasted to be the demise of books and reading—people said that boys of the future will “never have to learn his letters or to wrestle with the spelling book.” In addition, the television, as you probably know, is blamed for everything from childhood obesity to the downfall of academic grades in the past decades. Schools too have been proven in “Dumbing us down”!!!!

Today, the same thing is happening to the Internet (in general), social networking websites, mobile technology, tablets, e-books, computer games, and any new development you can name. It’s human nature to be wary of anything new. I’m not saying we should embrace technology without question, but we need to be open minded enough to review the evidence, not opinions.

Here’s an example: childhood violence. Are television programs and video games to blame? The answer is we don’t know, yes and no……….

Yes, there are studies out there that find a correlation between video games and violence, but for every one of those studies, I can name another that found no such relationship. In fact, there are studies that find positive effects games—not only “educational” ones—have on a child’s mind. (see my recent posts on MMORPG)

The Milken Exchange on Education and Technology concluded (PDF), after having reviewed over 700 empirical research studies, that “in an analysis of newer educational technologies, students with access to

  • Computer-assisted instruction, or
  • Integrated learning systems technology, or
  • Simulations and software that teaches higher order thinking, or
  • Collaborative networked technologies, or
  • Design and programming technologies

show positive gains in achievement on research-constructed tests, standardized tests and national tests.”

It did, however, find cases in which learning technology is ineffective—and that’s when the “learning objectives are unclear . As Martha Stone, codirector of the Educational Technology Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said in the report, “One of the enduring difficulties about technology and education is that a lot of people think about the technology first and the education later.”

So no, technology will never replace a great instructor. It will never replace the warm encouragement of a parent, or the delight of a teacher seeing her student succeed, or the wisdom of an experienced administrator.

Technology is a tool, and someone must wield it. And it’s a tool that can help you better achieve a balanced approach through keeping your students engaged, personalizing their learning, and challenging them academically.

And if you are concerned about the effect of new technology on your child’s well-being (and who isn’t?), take preventative measures instead of swearing it off altogether, as so many educators do. Child-monitoring services, for example, let adults “follow” their children around the web. Google has a SafeSearch function that limits what the child sees on their search engine. Even Internet service providers are getting in to help with enhancing online safety. Privacy is a real concern now and rightfully so.

Or, you can take a few of the most common methods parents use to protect their child in a digital world: review the ratings of the game your children play, place computers in public areas, and regulate their use (like setting time limits) or just tell them – you had no such thing when you were a kid/ were poor/were grateful for everything as a child/don’t worry too much as kids are dying everyday through lack of clean drinking water etc. etc. (No cynicism intended, I always tell my kids this when using the CONTROL factor on them plus its true!

But most importantly, you need to be involved in your child’s digital life. I know that sounds obvious, but according to a September 2012 report by Child Alert, 62 percent of parents are unaware of their child’s online contacts, with 28 percent saying they don’t monitor and supervise their child’s online behavior at all. Sadly, “only a third (33 percent) can claim that they are really vigilant when it comes to their child’s online safety.” I obviously should have done this right from the beginning but you live and learn.

Feel free to comment.



About dotonadot

I am currently studying a MA in TEFL at MMU having just completed a BA in Modern Middle Eastern History & Arabic at the University of Manchester. I completed my TESOL in 2007 and have caught the teaching 'bug' eversince.

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