If another parent of a four-year old asks me what kind of computer to buy their child, I am going to scream. Seriously, I’m not a screamer, but enough is a enough. What are these people thinking? In an era of Cyberbullying, Sexting, Sextortion (yes, that is a word), and Cyber-Stalking (nope, didn’t make that up either), why on earth would you force your child into this virtual universe before they even reach kindergarten?
Frankly, this is why I haven’t written anything since school started back. However, I have spent a few hours doing some holiday shopping for my niece and three nephews, so this question has come back to the forefront of my consciousness. Recently, when discussing this present-buying-paradox with our art teacher at school, she mentioned that she wished parents would buy more Crayons. “The kids complain that their hands get tired,” she told me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Luddite. I teach kids to use technology. I teach teachers to integrate new technologies. Heck, I’m using a computer right now, but to quote the uncle from Spider Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Do you really think that a four-year old is ready for global responsibility? Do you think a 10-year old or 14-year old can handle it?
A November 21st article in the NY Times, Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction, tells about a talented high school senior with flailing grades, a love of video production and Facebook, and parents who allowed him to purchase a new $2,000 distraction machine. Has this brilliant young man come to grips with his responsibilities as he shirks his school assignments to work on his videos? I have a conflicting response here. Part of me thinks that the teachers should better engage this student by leveraging his strengths. The other part of me thinks the parents should disconnect the Internet until his grades improve.
I don’t want to get on my soap box right now, though I am obviously already squarely on top of it, about how parents need to teach their children to be model global citizens, or how schools need to embrace more social media such that they can better prepare the next generation to interact in a digital world. As Will Richardson so eloquently put it in his most recent blog post,
Read all together, you get the sense the revolution is coming, just not anytime soon. And even worse, it’s doubtful that when it does come, that schools in general are going to lead it. – source: Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution? Well…Maybe
But if you want to ask me what I think your child may like for the holidays, I’m thinking blocks… or at least a cool set of Crayons.