That title may be a bit sensationalist, but I’m trying to make a point. Kids aren’t using enough technology at home or at school. Before you tell me how much they are on their phones and in front of computers, at least hear me out.
We know that communication is a central theme in 21st century classrooms. We moan about the fact that people would rather email or text than actually make a call. I’m OK with this. Unless it is an emergency, in which case you should always call. Everybody I know is trying to get time back. So why not use technology to get some of that time back? Using emailing and texting is imperative to saving yourself time instead of making the phone call. Plus, I know that when I get an email or text, that it is an indicator that there is no fire to put out and it can wait until it is convenient for me. What does this have to do with kids? We should be teaching them these skills too! A succinct and well written text or email can convey so much in so few words. Use these tools with your students.
So why then do so many schools still ban cell phones and not give out email addresses? I can only guess what the answers are, but I imagine it has something to do with being off task. It may happen in my lifetime that teachers and administrators start to realize that we should be teaching skills that real people are using everyday in the workplace.Texting clients or vendors is not rude; it is how real people communicate.
Too Much Screen Time
This is where things get a little less clear. There are lots of places to find guidelines for kids on screen time. I will argue that screen time is idle time wasted in front of the television or possibly a video game. Actual productive work is not “screen time.” I understand that watching tv prevents kids from exercise and thinking. I am not condoning that. I closely monitor how much my own children watch tv or play video games. I don’t however prevent my kids from writing on a computer, creating movies or music, or researching how to do these things. These are passions for kids. And just like we wouldn’t stop them from running if that is their passion, why would we stop them from working on a computer when creation is their passion. It’s important for them to develop these skills when they are young so that when they are adults they will be able to compete with others for the same jobs.
The challenge for us as educators is to give students productive time on computers. We shouldn’t just be digitizing worksheets. Instead, we should be creating engaging experiences that they will want to work on for hours. The right creative outlet will have them less interested in that other screen time.