I read a post by Jay Baer recently about teaching social media to kids in high school. The post alluded to teaching cyber security to kids as a way to protect themselves and their personal reputations and data.
But, I couldn’t help but think. Sure, we want to teach our kids about the RISKS of the internet. I’m with you–I want the same for my kids (and I’m starting to talk to them about this kind of thing now, and they’re in grade school).
But, what about all the wonderful potential the internet and social media holds? Don’t we want to teach our kids about that, too?
Isn’t that even MORE important than teaching them about the risks?
Couldn’t any class cover BOTH?
I say yes–and would LOVE to see such a class taught to our kids. And, I’d take it a step further–I think it needs to be taught at all levels. It’s that important in today’s society.
And yeah, any class would involve lessons around online privacy and cyber security, as Baer points out.
And, I would also add in an element of how others are using social media for cyber-bullying and how to manage that. You don’t think THAT would get support from Mom-and Dad-paying taxpayers across the country?
Like I said, I think the other half of this coin is teaching kids how to use the internet for good.
I mean, these kids are learning how to use the web at a very early age now (for my kids, that was about age 3). But, are they really LEARNING how to use the web? Or, are they merely adapting to it and figuring it out on the fly?
Now, adapting isn’t all bad, but there’s some legit weight to organizing a class and cirriculum taught by an actual teacher about how to actually use the internet to learn, invent and make the world a better place.
It actually boggles my mind why we’re NOT teaching this in some shape or form right now.
I know some schools have adopted iPads in the classroom. Good for them. Using technology in the classroom is a great thing.
But, that’s significantly different from teaching kids how to USE the internet. BIG difference.
For example, why couldn’t we teach out kids:
* How to effectively search for information on the web (and no, just typing something into Google does NOT qualify–anyone can do that)
* How to use social networks to find and connect with the right communities–folks who can help you learn about a particular topic, develop a new product, or make the world a better place to live (withe the context of being careful WHO you meet and talk with on the internet).
* Maybe most importantly, why aren’t we teaching our kids how to CREATE on the web? I mean, there’s a whole new legion of folks who are CREATORS on the net today. Those people are thriving–really thriving. And, to a large extent, they’re self-made. Why isn’t the education system embracing this as a form of artistic and personal expression? Isn’t that a big part of what education is supposed to do?
When I asked my son about what they teach him in the computer lab, he mentioned three things.
* They teach them how to illustrate poems (OK, illustrating poems, I’m on board; it’s creative expression at least; but this should be one of many forms of creative expression they discuss)
* They teach them how to change your desktop (OK, again, that’s useful but very how-to-run-a-computer 101; I would argue there are many more useful how-to-run-a-computer-type tips and lessons we could teach our kids before we start with “how to change your desktop”)
* They teach them how to type (I do like this; however, keep in mind, most of the kids I see typing these days STILL use the hunt-and-peck method; I still contend the class I took in typing as a high schooler was one of the best and most useful classes I EVER took!)
Now, at a fourth grade level, you probably don’t need to be getting into cyber security issues and online bullying (I think that comes in middle school). But, I do think you could cover a few of the areas I mentioned above.
Namely, how to search the internet for information. Maybe some discussion around what social media is and what it works (believe me, at fourth grade, they’re already hearing about it, and in some cases, using it).
What do you think? Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids the power of the internet instead of constantly trying to protect them from it?