The growing use of Technology in education, for its intended purposes, is wonderful and students benefit from this greatly.
The new Digital Technology Curriculum (2018) will further students’ development in this field by focussing on their ability to create and program with technology, rather than the ‘use of Technology’ that was the focus up to now.
Unfortunately we also see the rise in use of Technology in ways that is not always beneficial for students. To use Technology socially, has become a norm and can sometimes lead students down roads that range from uncomfortable to quite dangerous.
Students live much of their lives through Computer Technology, mediated through devices. They are in constant communication with influences and messages that dictate, pressure and evaluate, with norms set by others.
Constant connectedness allows no rest, and provides avenues for direct and indirect bullying. Direct bullying is easily recognised because of obvious and deliberate negative messages, and can be labelled ‘bullying’ if it involves repeated, negative badgering in an unequal power relationship. The other is the more subtle, often in the form of ‘frenemies’ (friends who are at times enemies), using 'clever' remarks that hurt.
Even if the communication is not negative Technology has the ability to shallow relationships, and reduce, what could have been much deeper meaningful relationships, to a sharing of unimportant facts. The constant messages can create the illusion of a maintained good friendship, but may lack true support for others. Constant amusement available (often without other human interaction) steals time that could have been spent building deeper relationships, and in more productive activities.
Is all this negative impact inevitable though? Can we interact with Technology and still reap the benefits?
Like with so many things in life, parents, significant adults, and teachers can and should guide and encourage good use of Technology in the lives of students. It could be in the form of rules, parental control systems or consequences, but it could also include purchasing an introduction of beneficial software, taking time to explore Technology with children, or the sending of positive messages. A text message Are you ok? Do you need to talk? can build relationships.
We should all be able to make the choices that will present Technology as the blessing God intended it to be. To help our children guard against misuse and overuse is a good start.
Mrs Antoinette Wilson
Head of Primary