I have spoken many times about both my awe and reservation of the rapid advancement in technology over the past decade or so. I am constantly amazed at what the digital world offers as so much of it seems like ‘wizardry’. However, I am also constantly concerned about the effects the digital world will have on our children which we cannot truly assess as it is yet unclear.Research presents us with mixed messages about whether children’s health is being effected, although, as a teacher I do think children are developing and presenting very differently to how they did when I first started teaching over 20 years ago.Whether this is a direct correlation to technology is difficult to say, but the world in which they interact is very different to the world children 20 years ago interacted.Interactions based solely in the virtual world can never replicate those that take place in the ‘real’ world which is why it is so important to educate our children, from a very young age, the importance of staying safe online.
Last Tuesday was Safer Internet Day and so we took the opportunity to compliment our regular ‘online safety’ lessons with an assembly where we thought about why it is important to know how to stay safe when using the internet. Through their previous learning, the children were fairly confident with the do’s and don’ts of being online but it was still important to reinforce the message.
We used the analogy of going to a new town or city where everything looks really exciting because there is so much to explore. However, all of the children agreed they would never explore a town or city by themselves because they might get lost or it will probably be filled with strangers or there might be parts of the town that are dangerous etc. We then compared the internet as being like a big city where there are so many exciting things to explore and find out but that if you adventure off on your own you may get lost / meet strangers / come across dangers so it is always important to let an adult know what you are doing.Just as an adult would hold your hand in a new city they can also hold your hand in the virtual world by knowing where you are going and what you are doing.
I hope, through education, today’s children will be digital-savvy and enjoy the many benefits technology brings with the maturity and tenacity to cope with the parts that are not as positive.