Emily Columpsi

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery" -Mark Van Doren

Connecting or Disconnecting?

During my last online meeting with ECMP 455 we talked a lot about the negative impacts technology could have or is having on our youth. It is scary to think that children are being born into this new digital age where there is such a high increase in cyber bullying, inappropriate use, and exploitation among children online: whether intentional or not. Last night we had conversations about and touched on Chat Roulette, Tinder, Catfish and other technological forms of exploitation among children and teens. For those of you who do not know, Chat Roulette is an online chat website that pairs people randomly from around the world together to take part in webcam based conversations. At first, this website could be seen as a great way to communicate with others and build relationships. However, very quickly, as mentioned last night, Chat Roulette started to receive major backlash to its inappropriate content; in particular with respect to the distasteful, obscene or pornographic material that some users were exhibiting. Instead of connecting people together, it quickly started to disconnect them. As a result, we were talking about how parents should keep their children off the site; however, that is easier said than done as many children under the age of ten are abusing the site. Chat Roulette and Tinder could be used for communication and relationships but people are completely abusing it in negative ways.

These conversations led us to the following question, as prompted by our professor Alec Couros — How do we make students/children understand the problems of technology before they come across them? Nowadays, children as young as ten understand how to work a computer; therefore, they have the potential to come across or participate in this inappropriate content. Collectively as a class we stated that we should deal with it before something happens, before they get involved, rather than waiting for something negative to happen. Parents and teachers should be having conversations with children about the negative potentials of technology and certain websites and why they should not participate. However, as teachers how can we just bring these conversations up in our classrooms? How can we make students understand the problems before they come across them? One of my fellow classmates stated teachers could place a question jar in the room in which students could write down questions anonymously. This was a great idea, as keeping anonymity with technology questions and related issues private among students will prevent any further damage or negativity coming from other classmates. I actually conducted the question jar when I was volunteering with the Go Girls Program two years ago and it worked great. The questions that the young girls wrote down were personal and private so keeping it anonymous was essential. However, some girls did not take it seriously and wrote down irrelevant questions like, “Do you believe in unicorns.” Some found it to be a joke while others found it purposeful and educational.

The bottom line is that technology is almost seen as a necessity to survive and flourish in this age of advancement. However, with this advancement comes the potential for great harm and damage among our youth. That being said, parents and educators alike should educate students and children, and inform them before they get involved.

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