A friend of mine posted this article- I figured it was the standard article about internet safety and warning of some new way kids were in danger using social media.
I was half right. The article does warn of the new way kids are using instagram to hold beauty pagents. It is alarming and the author made good points. But I stopped short when she said that her kids had to share their passwords until they were 13. What? Then she goes on to say these kids including hers that were on instagram were in 4th and 5th grade.
I had the standard nanny reaction You know- we all love kids and most of us rail against thee kids using tech. In fact I am always boring people about studies that show that TV is so harmful for young children and have been very strict with my former charges who wanted Facebook pages or the like.
BUT I am going to challenge us to think about this for a minute. Technology is this funny thing- it doesn't go backwards. Just because it is dangerous to drive a car, we probably will never go back to the horse and buggy. Just because it is more comforting to communicate face to face- cell phones are not going anywhere. In fact recent studies have indicated that almost all U.S. kids under the age of 2 have a digital footprint already.
So if the new technology we are integrating into our society at a rapid clip is here to stay- shouldn't we be teaching kids to use it from the very start? We all know a 2 year old who can work an iPhone to get to the pictures they want to view or play a game. Shouldn't we also be teaching kids how to use it to learn? to get information?
As we teach manners and social norms to our young children, should we also be teaching them how to communicate online? Should we be teaching kids at 4 and 5 the right way to phrase things, the emoticons you need, to get along with others in a digital world? Because in light of the intense bullying and easy misunderstandings of kids in middle school- it might be too late by then.
When we teach kids about how to evade that white van at the playground and how to use their instincts about strangers perhaps we should be teaching them to detect online predators and find safe communities to interact with on their devices.
I am not so sure when is too early and when is too late. But I think it is time to start thinking of technology in some new ways. I mean we all know that we can not tell kids to eat vegetables and healthy foods and then eat Cheetos and drink soda for lunch. We know what that yields. So if the digital world is one where our kids are going to live (and it is) then we need to give them opportunities with boundaries to make mistakes and learn in a safe way.
I am still puzzling this all out. What about you??