Recently I received an email from one of the parents from my class raising the question of where technology fits within the family home and the struggle many parents face between letting their children engage with technology and the need for children to play and explore. She hopes to collate people’s experiences and publish them in a book. I have to admit, initially I was surprised by her email, because as a teacher I am continually trying to find effective ways of using technology to enhance the learning in my classroom.
However, when I read her email again, I realised that it is something many parents may find themselves facing today. As a mother of two young girls many years ago, I too worried that letting my children engage with technology such as ipods, wii’s DS’s etc would inhibit their naturally inquisitive minds from exploring the world and developing their social skills. I steadfastly held onto my beliefs and deprived my own children, not caving in once to social pressures to buy a wii, when all their friends had one!
Since then I have been on a very deep learning curve. One of the wonderful things about teaching is that you are able to attend conferences that not only build upon your own knowledge, but it also enables you to hear about what some amazing speakers are doing, not only in a local context but globally. In recent years, I have been fortunate to attend both state and international conferences and discover, learn and explore a myriad of ways in which technology is being used to enhance children’s learning. Now I worry that my own two daughters do not have enough access and exposure to the many forms of technology that is now available and I worry, am I doing everything I can to ensure that they are ready for whatever the furture holds for them.
And so how am I responding to my parents email?
Since recieving her email last week, I have had several interesting discussions with her and with my colleagues at my school. I believe we should support her in her journey to find the answers to her questions and to this end we have agreed to publish her email in our school newsletter, along with an invitation to other parents to come along to a Parent Forum in our school library, so that they can share their own stories and learn from each other. I have also invited our school’s ICT coordinator Kathy Turley to attend, so that we can educate our parents about the importance of technology in children’s learning and how we are using it at Port Elliot Primary School to enhance thier learning. I hope this will help many parents become better informed about the choices they have to make as parents and have a better understanding about what we, as educators, are trying to provide for and achieve for their children.
I will let you know how it goes…..
Meanwhile I have provided a copy of her email below with her permission and would be very interested in hearing your thoughts and/or feedback. Please indicate if you are happy for me to share your thoughts with her.
“I am a parent of two boys aged nine and six. One of the ongoing concerns within our family is technology and electronic devices. How do we safely allow technology to be a part of their, and our lives, and still let our children experience childhood? Does technology work in unison with childhood? Is technology so engulfed within our current society that we are required to partake whether we like it or not? I seem to be having an increasing number of conversations with other parents about technology and its implications on our, and in particular, our childrens’ lives. There seems to be varying opinions on how to approach it, how to utilise it and how to discipline it, especially in regards to social use and educational purposes. If you feel you have views to express in regards to this topic, then please use this as an oppurtunity for your experiences and ideas to be heard. My aim is to publish a complete text which will include shared stories from parents and teachers in relation to “Technology and Childhood”. I think by documenting families approaches we can not only learn from each other, guide and help each other, but also record the current role that technology has in our childrens’ lives. Our young generations are going to be such a significant part of this country’s history. To a great extent they are “guinea pigs” to the social, physical and developmental outcomes of technology usage from a young age.
So what is your approach?
* There is no word limit for your contribution, however I wish to include as many varying stories as possible so a thesis is not encouraged! Please include the age and gender of the children involved, and how much exposure to any forms of technology they have, or haved experienced. * You may remain annonymous, or by all means include your name, town and state you live in. * Thank you for your time and participation. If you have anyone else you know of whom would be able to make a valid contribution, then please pass this information on. * All contributions will need to be received by September 16th 2012.
Thankyou, regards (name withheld at parents’ request) “