Monday, March 7, 2016

Older Generation vs. New Technology: It's Time to Embrace Change

"Screen time is dangerous. Social networking needs to be limited. Kids' self-image is being destroyed. Only bad role models are portrayed in the media......" 
My two-year-old niece at the local library in WA where they have embraced the use of technology for learning.
Do you complain about how much technology is embedded in our lives? Do you often prefer the "old way" of doing things? If you answered yes to either of these questions, let me show you why you may be hindering education.

Kids should not be a victim of technology, they should be carefully instructed how to best use their abilities to shape their viewing experience. We all have the unique opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to us. We have worldwide social networking sites to connect us with people across the globe. We are able to collaborate with strangers and share ideas in ways we have never been able to before. Social networking and other forms of media are not the problem, we are. By actively engaging in learning how to utilize new forms of media alongside the younger generations, we are hindering the educational success of this era. We must engage in using new forms of technology in order to teach our students and children how to maturely and effectively navigate the digital society we live in. 
By allowing ourselves to play the victim and claim that children are being subjected to the evils of technology, we are essentially wasting these tools. We need to educate ourselves, be a step ahead of the game, and stop being afraid of technology. We cannot let children and teens be passive consumers of technology, we must empower them to shape their learning experience. 
Throughout history, it has been hard to accept change, especially when it seems so foreign to what we are accustomed to. William Tyndale (1494-1536), the man who fought to translate the Catholic Bible so the common people could have a readable copy in their homes, was threatened, chased, and eventually martyred. At the time, the Catholic priests were the only ones who could read the Bible because of the Hebrew and Greek text. Because of this, it was common for the priests, when teaching the congregation, to fabricate parts of what they said, claiming it came from the Bible. William Tyndale knew this and decided he wanted the congregation to be able to read for themselves, in English, what was actually written in the Bible. He was the first who used the Gutenberg printing press in order to disseminate his Bibles widely.

Retrieved from: The Lone Wolf Librarian
William Tyndale's Bible was eventually recognized and promoted by the Catholic church, but that was after Tyndale had already been killed in his efforts. Today, we can clearly see how important his contribution was in decreasing the blind belief and ignorance of religious people. They were finally able to use the tools available to them in learning about their religion and worshiping however they saw fit. 

In a similar way, it is important for children to be able to use and understand the technological tools available to them. We must learn to accept and implement new ideas, just as the Catholic church eventually did, in order to help progress society. If we do not, we will look back with regret at the opportunities we missed in educating our students and children with technology.

Even though technology allows us to learn and collaborate with others, we must also be aware that the current media culture does have a negative side. When a child is developing, they are unable to effectively deal with the bombardment of opinions regarding appearance, lifestyle, and self-image. Therefore, they can be subject to feelings of depression and unimportance. As they are developing, they are unable to confront dangerous cyber-bullying that is dominant in social networking today. By teaching children how to use technology for educational purposes as well as entertainment, they will learn that social networking sites are not the only important parts of technology today. 

Since adults are not engrossing themselves in technology, teenagers are only focusing on the "fun side" of the online community that catches their attention. Therefore, they are subjecting themselves to other teenagers who also do not understand the impact their words can have on others. If children are taught to effectively navigate the digital universe, they will learn to be compassionate members of the online community, able to contribute maturely to the media culture. In the below TED Talk, Monica Lewinsky emphasizes the effect that the Internet had on her during the White House scandal. At the end, she asks the audience to "imagine walking a mile in someone else's headline." While it is vital to integrate technology into our lives and learning, it is important for children to understand the impact their words can have on someone via the Internet.

Teaching students and children to integrate technology into their lives efficiently seems difficult, but I have a plan that would do just this. However, it is up to us – the older generations – to implement it. 

First, we must throw away the notion that technology is harmful to development. If used in the correct way, it can help progress learning and society. In an article by NAEYC, they found computers and technology to be beneficial to children at home and in the classroom to support learning. They say:

"When used appropriately, technology can support and extend traditional materials in valuable ways. Research points to the positive effects of technology in children's learning and development, both cognitive and social (Clements 1994; Haugland & Shade 1994). In addition to actually developing children's abilities, technology provides an opportunity for assessment. Observing the child at the computer offers teachers a "window" onto a child's thinking. Just as parents continue to read to children who can read themselves, parents and teachers should both participate with children in computer activities and encourage children to use computers on their own and with peers."

Do not be afraid of the "Digital Age" because it is here to stay. Instead, we must engross ourselves in technology in order to teach the next generation of students how to use it wisely.
Next, we must learn to be one step ahead of our children or students. Of course we will be constantly taught by them, but we must not let it all go over our heads. We need to work hard to use the upcoming technology in our classrooms and homes. This way, we can teach students how to collaborate online in a constructive way with others. 

Last, lead by example. We must stop telling them to cut out computer time altogether. Instead, we can show them how to learn via the Internet. Teach them to always check the reliability of websites. Teach them safety precautions, but to also be brave on the Internet. 

Today is not the day to shy away from using the digital tools available to us. By doing this, we are hindering the improvement of younger generations. It all starts with us - the older generations - we need to embrace the technologically-driven culture so we can help our students and children to maturely and efficiently use the tools available to them.


  1. I really like your argument here. I never really thought that the younger generation seems to be more focused on the "fun" form of technology, and don't really want to focus on the educational part of it. I remember my sister telling me that her 1-year-old daughter was able to go to her phone and open an app and watch little videos. Technology is consuming kids in this way, so if we take this interest that the younger generation has and apply to the educational system, then they will be able to help them adapt better to the new technology-based curriculum, like you said.

  2. Wow, you really come out swinging. The argument makes sense, I think that if it really is targeted to older generations then it might be a little to straight forward and harsh, but I could be wrong. I think the connection to the broader topic is there, but it is missing the historical context and really any support from outside sources.

  3. Chloe, do you think it is this simple?

    I really wish it were. I just feel like there's so much work that has to go into this idea. Adults, first of all, have to actually care about this and grasp the concept. That doesn't seem to be the case right now. I hope you can have a good argument for this though and explain very well why this is so necessary and possible.

  4. Chloe, do you think it is this simple?

    I really wish it were. I just feel like there's so much work that has to go into this idea. Adults, first of all, have to actually care about this and grasp the concept. That doesn't seem to be the case right now. I hope you can have a good argument for this though and explain very well why this is so necessary and possible.