I am a Prep School teacher in South West London and I have been asked to do a presentation on Digital Technology to Key Stage 2 (Year 3, 4, 5 & 6).
Having sat in numerous talks to children about the pros and cons, I always leave feeling that I have heard it all before. Some of the recurring themes/discussion points are:
Empower children to be a responsible ‘digital citizen’
Educate children to create a positive digital tattoo or footprint
Children must report online abuse to an adult
Be nice when communicating with others online
etc. etc. etc.
I feel that whilst much of the above is useful, it misses the mark when it comes to ensuring that children use digital technology in an ethical way, and ultimately, in a way that aligns with who they want to be and what they care about. Furthermore, how can we best encourage them to manage their time effectively?
I often find that many children ‘talk the talk’, but when it comes down to it, many of them cannot say that the time spent on an iPad, iPhone etc. is ‘time well spent’.
Children need practical examples/application in order for a message to both resonate and stick with them. Many children in the age group I am talking to cannot wait until they receive their first mobile phone or iPad. It opens up a whole new world to them (Social media, games etc.) which they are so eager to immerse themselves in.
How do you think it would be best to get the message across? Any ideas and suggestions would be most welcome.
I wish you well in your discussion with the kids! In my work, I use acting and performance techniques to develop stronger communication and listening skills as well as focus and presence. This allows people to better connect with each other on a face-to-face level, as it is not effective if you have a screen in front of your face.
I would suggest trying out some theater/improvisation games that utilize communication and listening. This is a fun way to get the kids out of their seats and allow them to learn in a new way. 9 times out of 10, so long as the exercises are explained clearly, it is a lot of fun and the kids have a great time!
When all is said and done, make sure the kids internalize the experience of the exercises. And tell them to “remember this feeling.” Often times, these type of exercises allow students to open up, be somewhat vulnerable, and have fun and connect to one another. Perhaps stressing that they should remember this feeling and be sure not to lose this type of connection when engaged with technology can be useful?
This is a very outside-the- box- idea that can potentially be effective. If you would like more information or maybe even some ideas for exercises, feel free to shoot me a message!
Of course if you know me., I’d say do a skit on how to put the digital media down when finished. Have a parent participate and tell 3-4 kids tablet time is over now when the activity of finished- you can also have a family sit at a table and have everyone put away their devices away and play begin a board game after eating.
Make a chant or song about “time to put away our iPads” in USA we have a clean up song kids sing in preschool that lingers in ones head. If I lived closer I’d help for free!!
Sounds crazy but showing young children early there are limits is good!!
An afterthought here- somewhere it’s good to say too much is never good- to never pick a screen over a person to interact…
I’m don’t have experience in this area, but I wonder if it would be interesting to ask them things like, what do you feel like when adults just sit on their phones around you? Do you like it? Why not? If you were a grown up and had your own kid, would you want them to spend huge amounts of their day gaming or watching you tube, or would you want to take them to do cool stuff, hang out together etc… What sort of person do you want to be when you have a phone or device? Discussion and writing up ideas about that between some talks and games/other ways to learn … Just a thought…
Generating a discussion for this age group sounds like a great idea! Doing a skit will grab the most attention in the beginning- when kids that age get in a lecture setting (at least in America) they gloss over and some don’t understand the message)- so including some sort of game or entertainment like a skit will ensure the most amount of kids understand. If there a teacher that can collaborate with you about ways to introduce e the topic?
However I’ve never heard you talk- some people have that connection with kids naturally. In any event your going to the school and talking is so good- the parents and teachers will appreciate it.
This may or may not yet be part of the standard story, but… for impact you may tell the horror story of prolonged smartphone use: “Children, who of you would like to get a nice hunchback in a couple of years?”
I would also recommend incorporating some emotional intelligence into your presentation. The feedback some researchers are getting indicates that kids often feel burdened by technology and social media, but they can’t stop themselves from using it. So perhaps you could talk to them about different feelings, the importance of being able to name them AND recognize them in our bodies, and know what to do when we experience them. So that for example, if they have spent 20min on Instagram and are now noticing themselves becoming irritable, that will be their body and mind’s signal that it’s time to stop, and do something more enjoyable and stimulating instead.
As an extension of this, you could also emphasize just how important it is to keep a good balance between virtual socializing and live socializing with their friends.
Thanks you for your responses - such valuable insight and advice.
So I will be starting my presentation with two skits, one of a family completely engrossed in technology and the other a skit of a family playing a board game, but using one device (iPad) to look up a word they don’t understand. The idea is to get the children to understand that technology can be useful, but should not replace real human interaction. I will then be getting the children to comment on the skits and to give their opinions as to what they perceive are the pros and cons of each.