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Friday, December 25, 2015

Give the Gift of Tech + Stop Feeling Guilty

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It's Christmas Day and children everywhere are excitedly opening gifts. Many of those gifts may be the latest gadget, gizmo, or gift card. Some parents might feel guilty about the exposure to "screens" and it's no wonder. Today, as I was trying to have a Merry Christmas myself, I was interrupted by my friend Lisa Cooley who sends me a curmudgeonly article from Diane Ravitch’s blog: It’s about Paula Poundstone, the comedian, who has this Luddite advice for parents: break your children’s addiction to electronic devices.  
Ravitch asks, Is she right or wrong? She says, "Shouldn't children spend time making things, not just consuming what someone else has made? Shouldn’t they have time to use their own imagination, not just imbibe the products of someone else’s imagination?"
Well of course! What Ravitch and Poundstone are missing, and don’t appreciate, is that kids are not just consuming. They ARE MAKING things online. In fact they are creating more than ever before. Not only that, they have access to more books, knowledge, experts, and creations tools than ever before.  
Ironically, Ravitch and Poundstone are using the very devices they are blasting to get their message across and have conversation with others...other real people.  

So, before you get too worried about your tween or teen and the screen, here's another take on the misguided animosity against screens presented by Poundstone. With a few tweaks to the original, courtesy of moi, it is easy to see we're scapegoating and misunderstanding the power, knowledge, and connections screens can provide. Screens are just a tool controlled by a human. The real issue is not that children are using screens, but how children are being required to spend their days regardless of whether or not they're using devices.
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