The Toronto Star recently published an article asking, “Is the internet bad for us?”. Good question.
Nothing excites me more than each step forward in doing our best for students. Every concern addressed, every lesson made more impactful, and every child we more effectively connect with is the reward that reenergizes us for the next day. While not always the case, technology and the Internet, in the hands of a determined and mindful teacher, frequently play a role in these steps forward. Though I stand firmly in the camp that says the technology glass is more than half full, I’ve seen enough to know that keeping The Star’s question in the back of our minds is an important part of ensuring the glass doesn’t get knocked over.
The article lists many reasons for concern: family time dominated by laptops and texting, decreased ability to converse, constant desire for affirmation, lack of time alone with one’s thoughts or playing side-by-side with others, etc. The social conflicts inherent in growing up now often play out in cyberspace, where slights, or worse, take on a much greater significance than anything the pre-Internet generation had to face. Growing up is hard, and this generation’s abundant use of the Internet amplifies the highs and lows of this critical stage. Raising children is hard, and the Internet has likewise been a mixed blessing for parenting.
The Internet is here to stay, and to bemoan what’s bad is to miss out on all that’s good. But to revel in the positive without attention to what’s not is unwise. Teaching responsible use of the Internet is now part of what schools must do. Monitoring and having reasonable limits on use at home is now part of what parents must do. With these efforts in place, we can happily answer the opening question, “It could be bad, but not in my family.”
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.