As I engaged with this weeks lecture on Tuesday and the following video I learnt a great deal, and also contemplated a-lot.
As a Gen X student, I must admit that my fascination and appreciation for Youtube is not great. In fact, it is the one source of video I refuse to have on the main television in our house. In opposition my pre-teen daughters could spend hours on Youtube, watching the vlogs of people’s lives. However, after viewing the above video, I have a new respect for how it has changed our world and our culture. I must admit that one fact that Michale talks about that I do like, is the fact that what is broadcast is no longer left up to the decisions of multimedia companies. The fact that any group or person can get together and post content is liberating and has helped our world to evolve to include the perspectives of diverse communities. However, the downside to his is that there is no moderation of this content or filtering as to what is true, false and to whom which content is appropriate. It places 100% responsibility on the parents to monitor what their children are viewing, which is increasingly more difficult and often leads to drastic guidelines. While as a parent I can choose to install parental software (Screen Time, Norton, OurPact) on my child’s devices, the settings make it very difficult to set up for those children who are in the pre-teen to early teen years. If those restrictions are set to filter out the inappropriate content, it results in them not being able to listen to a lot of today’s current music, leaving them with the option of watching and listening to little kid’s content like Barney. Further, I cannot control what the parental controls are on the devices that belong to their friends, and we certainly cannot keep our children from their peers, nor can we be pursuing their friend’s devices.
So how do we proceed?
I think the best thing that we can do as teachers is to educate our students to the best of our ability on the dangers of social media, and also to educate them on how to use these new technologies in a positive way. In my pre-internship and also my experience as a parent, very few parents actually educate their kids about the dangers of the internet, or have any sort of parental controls on their children’s phones.
Why is this?
Do you think that it is a case of parents not being aware themselves of the dangers that are present, or is it simply an overlooked step? I will say for me it was a little bit of both. Being a non-tech savvy mom, meant I also did not fully understand the dangers out there, and as every parent always thinks it won’t happen to my kid or in my town. But that is the thing, the reach of the internet is so large and the predators are everywhere lying in wait to take advantage of our children.
This is why we as teachers need to take in on ourselves to educate our students. We need to educate them about how to be responsible on the internet, how to utilize it for the good and the entertaining and the educational, all while knowing how to keep themselves safe. We need to teach our students how to find a balance between using and enjoying the internet vs becoming immersed and dependant on it.
If we cannot teach our students this balance then not only are they at the risk of predators, but they are also at the risk of suffering mentally and emotionally from the filtered reality that is presented to us so often in social media and on the internet.
As far as using technology in the classroom and in schools in general, the internet has been life-changing. Can you imagine how we would have handled Covid without the use of the many different technologies available to us? Think of Google Slides, Class Dojo, ZOOM. As we return to in-class learning, we are forever changed by the evolving technologies, and as teachers we must try to harness this participatory culture to our benefit, to get our students involved and engaged. I especially love how teachers have turned to social media such as tic tok to deliver short and helpful lessons to students, like grammar. The teachers are meeting their students at their level and taking the time to make it fun and interesting.
It is for that reason that I signed up for this class, as I know that I need to hone my skills and my knowledge of the internet and all it has to offer so that I can meet my students where they are, teach them how to use it safely and responsibly and model great and active digital citizenship. Hopefully, by doing so we can prevent what happened to Amanda Todd from happening to our own students. The videos we watched on Amanda Todd really hit home for me.
As a mother of 2 pre-teen girls, who has the parental controls and rules in place, it still happened to my child, she was made a target of the predators and I am just thankful that we were able to catch it before it developed into a more serious situation. Every parent should watch these videos, and every student should as well (age-appropriate). It is an uncomfortable conversation to have, but the only way to protect our kids/students is to lean into the uncomfortable. That is how we defeat these predators.