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Everywhere you look kids and adults are glued to their iPhones, iPads, or some other electronic device. We were visiting a relative recently and there on the couch were four teenage cousins, boys and girls, all on digital devices, laughing and sharing youtube videos.
They were having a ton of fun. Here’s the basic content of their conversation. “Have you seen this one? It’s hilarious.” Then they all click on the link and the laughing begins. After that another cousin chimes in, “You’re gonna love this one.” And to it they all go. More hilarity.
The digital age is in full bloom. There’s no escaping it, and it’s not all bad. In fact, there are some great advantages to delving in, whatever your age. Parents and grandparents need to be savvy participants or they will be left behind. If you don’t know how, ask your kids or grandkids. They will love teaching you. It puts them in a sort of up position. Instead of always being the one taught, they get to teach. It feels good. Parents cannot properly guide their children in the digital age if they do not have, at least some, understanding of it.
Most schools are now well equipped with laptops and iPads for student use. In a recent conversation, Shauna Palmer, a high school government and politics teacher, said her concerns were not so much that students have their own devices, since most schools are well equipped, as it was that they used them properly. “Too many times, when assignments are given, kids think, ‘No big deal. I’ll just google the subject and easily find the material.’” Palmer said, “I’ve found that when kids turn to google only, they don’t learn the material as well. It’s a fast answer with little or no retention value. I require at least three sources for an essay.” She’s wanting them to delve into the subject and compare information and come to their own conclusions as to solutions. She wants them to go beyond thinking that everything they read online is accurate. Her goal is for them to learn to make comparisons and think for themselves.
Kids find it too tempting and too easy to do a quick search so they can get back to texting friends and electronic games. She said that this mindset is often present in their essays. Some students are so accustomed to texting that they use this same lingo in an essay, to get it done in a hurry. She said, “That’s unacceptable in my classes. Anyone using shortcut texting abbreviations will receive a failing grade on their essay. They must learn how to communicate accurately when they write or they will end up failing in the real world.” She’s hoping parents will insist on the same level of writing and help them achieve it.
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