The Head of the Junior School from Tanglin Trust School, Clair Harrington-Wilcox, and Tanglin Technology Specialist, Kevin Tibble, offer tips on raising digital natives via an education that prizes digital literacy.
Popularised by education consultant Marc Prensky, the term “digital native” is used to describe children who have only known a digital world. Digital natives feel at home in this environment and are often more comfortable with extended time spent online compared to their “digital immigrant” educators and parents.
Since the arrival of Covid-19, our children are spending even more time online. Video-conferencing, remote learning platforms and other online tools have been adopted at an astounding speed. Given the intrinsic benefits found in these new technologies, increased usage is likely to endure even after the pandemic ends.
Of course, we all have varying degrees of comfort with this. Parents may have found Netflix’s recent documentary, The Social Dilemma, to be a good opening to having honest conversations with their pre-teen child. As educators – teachers and parents alike – we have a responsibility to guide children on how to be a good citizen in all realms.
Here are three tips that can help:
It’s important to pay attention to the quality of the content your child is consuming. Streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ tend to provide more curated content as opposed to the largely unregulated “self-upload” nature of YouTube.
Balance the time your child spends online. For example, if you use a screen time limit, break it down by content – think 30 minutes of Minecraft, 30 minutes of television, and one hour of school applications – to avoid excessive consumption of a single medium.
It is key to respect that our digital natives now view YouTubers – from Preston Playz to Azzyland or PewDiePie – with the same level of fanaticism that we held for the pop stars of our time. Learn more about who your kids like to watch, and why. This knowledge can then be used to discern the type of content you feel is appropriate for them.
In addition, social media is not going away. Parents have every right to oversee their child’s social media account (especially when they’re younger than 13). Unsupervised access to social media applications, especially ones like TikTok and Triller, carries many potential dangers – from viewing inappropriate and harmful content to unwanted contact from strangers.
Staying involved is the easiest way to judge first-hand the effects certain content consumption might have on your child. Take, for example, the social gaming application Among Us. While it has been rated appropriate for children above 10 years, the unfiltered conversations with strangers – a key component of the game – and the cartoon-style murder scenes, suggest a 14+ rating. Even then, playing the game privately with friends is a much safer option.
Learn more about how Tanglin Trust School uses technology to enhance children’s learning, and how we encourage children to think critically about their online behaviour at tts.edu.sg/academics/technology.
By Clair Harrington-Wilcox and Kevin Tibble, December 2020 / Photos courtesy of Tanglin Trust School.
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