A new article in Independent School Magazine talks about the role of adults in helping children navigate online spaces. Some teachers and parents do not feel qualified to help guide children through social networking sites and Internet forums because they are not experienced with them, says Judy McCleese, a family and child therapist who co-wrote the article with her 26-year-old computer programmer son Sean. However, taking a hands off approach because of those concerns is a mistake, they say, and “what is lacking ... is the voice of parents and teachers in guiding the experience of technology,” says the article.
Much of the article focuses on the role of parents in teaching their children about safe and appropriate use of technology. It provides tips on how to approach the subject and explanations for why online technologies and text messaging are so important to adolescents. It also outlines the different complications that arise from the Internet, such as cyberbulling, cyberstalking, and sexual harassment. But it’s important to recognize that the Internet is a medium for behaviors that adolescents have always struggled with, say the authors. For example:
In the end, it is best to view Internet use as no different from access to TV, games, movies, or other forms of media. We are wise to remember that children and adolescents do not view these forms of media as significantly different from each other and will, thus, see inconsistent rules across the various media as arbitrary and uninformed.
Scroll to the end of the article to read more about the role of schools in helping parents guide children safely through online spaces. Schools can help educate students about appropriate use of technology, make children aware of the risks, and help parents keep a clear head if an incident does occur, says the article.
It’s a lengthy, but worthwhile read and gets to the heart of a lot of parental and educational concerns about kids and the way they use technology. Check it out here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.