Teach Your Children to Use Technology! Don’t Ban It!

Thursday’s Thoughts….Today Anthony Orsini, principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey, went on record advocating the banning of access to sites such as Facebook and MySpace for middle school students.   Too much danger with cyber-bullying and sexual predators…not worth subjecting your children to such cruelty and danger.  But, when did ignoring a problem ever really make it go away?

There have been many times when I have wanted to shelter my children from trouble, pain, and the loss of innocence.  I’ve fantasized about keeping them under my wings forever.  Years ago I banned toy guns from my home (the kids resorted to using sticks as guns), I banned The Simpsons from my living room (even my husband had trouble maintaining that rule), R-rated movies were a no-no in my house (but not so in many of their friends’ homes).

Even now that my children are in their twenties, I toss and turn about possible hurt, unfairness, and disappointment in the college classrooms and about the dangers lurking in the bars, on the highways, and, of course,  in their dorms or apartments.  “Don’t do this; remember that; watch out for…, etc.  But, I remind myself that sheltering them too much from trouble also shelters them from happiness-the joy of discovery, independence, excitement of learning and problem solving, and…the list goes on.

So, while I recognize that I have a long way to go before I win the Mother-of-the-Year Award, I also recognize that imposing too many bans on their lives inhibits their access to the fullness of life.  Technology is not going to go away.  It will be a part of their lives forever, and it is expected that they learn how to use it wisely, efficiently, and safely.  Keep things open. Keep the computer in the family area where traffic is heavy.   They may encounter difficulties along the way, but if you are with them, and they do not feel the need to sneak or be ashamed of what they are doing online, they are more likely to ask you questions.

So, is banning Facebook from middle school students’ lives the answer?  Ban it from your home, ban it from their lives; tell them they can’t look at it anymore, anywhere, anytime, or for any reason!  Good luck with that.  All that’s going to accomplish is make it more attractive. Better yet, teach them to use Facebook safely and enjoyably.  Ask them what they and their friends like and dislike about Facebook, and what they use it for.  Ask them what they know about cyber-bullying and bullying in general.  Help them learn how to handle disagreeable, disappointing, and hurtful issues on- and offline.  Bullying is not a new concept.

Regardless of the fact that your teenagers may (ahem) already know everything, keep talking to them.  Ask them to teach you how to use some of their favorite sites.  Ask them questions; ask them also for solutions. Find out what they know, and what they don’t know.  Brainstorm solutions for new problems that may arise for them and for you.  As in everything, try to keep the communication open. Let them see how much you enjoy using technology and how you stay safe online.  Talk to them about what challenges you’ve found.  Be a good role model.

Oh, one more thing…the loss of innocence?  A sad fact.  When I taught middle school, I had more than a few students who already had at least one child.  If  you haven’t started dealing with the loss of innocence before middle school, it may already be lost.

2 Responses

  1. Hi, thanks for sharing your idea about using techonology in a meaninful and nice way with our kids.. sometimes we ask many questions about if it is possible without opening so much and making it uncontrolled in a educational context.

    • Thank you for taking the time to jot down a comment. I’m glad that we are “partners” in learning more about teaching with technology. What do you teach?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: