American School of Bombay – Parenting Hi Tech Children

| February 21, 2012 | 1 Comment 

Our time in Mumbai, at The American School of Bombay, for #ASBUnplugged, has really been enhanced by the chance to travel, and explore, alongside Dr. Larry Rosen, an expert in the psychology of technology.

So it was a pleasure to start today with Larry, and parents from the school, looking at how to understand, a bit more, the lives of the iGeneration, Generation C and beyond, in a session called “Parenting Hi Tech Children and Teens“. Larry introduced us to recent generations: baby boomers, generation x (1965-79), net generation, which started in 1980 when future internet users were born.

Right behind the net generation is the “iGeneration” with their accessibility to devices with an “i” – ipod, iphone, itouch, ieverything – plus these children’s thirst for any new mobile technology.

Generation-C are uber-connected: have never known a world without the internet or on-demand access to content, are accustomed to immediate feedback and customization. – music, tv shows, etc. are customized for them. They have a desire for immediacy, are adept at multitasking, able and comfortable in creating and publishing content immediately and widely online, and have “always on” technology, 24×7

Larry says: “Little research has been done on these preschool and elementary school-aged children, but our interviews with parents of more than 2,000 of them show that they are embracing technology and media much earlier than their older brothers and sisters. In fact, these children are getting their first taste of personal technology often before they can even sit up without assistance. To put it simply, children have grown up in an environment where technology is everywhere and much of it is invisible.

Most children and adolescents have grown up with the largest storehouse of information in history – the internet – and from an early age they learned to play online games, send e-mail to grandma and grandpa, and watch videos. As they got older, they learned to Google anything they wanted to know, mapquest directions, go to wikipedia for school reports, and use dictionary.com for definitions. Many have never used a card catalogue, a “real” encyclopedia, or Webster’s dictionary. Some have never set foot in a library other than as a place to study after school. To children and teenagers, the internet has always been just a click away and, as you will see from the data we have collected over the years, they use it for a variety of purposes that are beyond the scope of anything imagined just a decade ago”.

Generations differ in media use, multitasking skills, communication, socialization, content creation, learning styles, work values and even core values.

One out of every 4.5 mins is on Facebook. Baby boomers are the fastest growing Facebook users. Top teen activity is social networking. Life is moving faster than ever …particularly for these younger generations. There are many new technologies for a new generation. All of these have come along since 2000: ipod, •iphone,•wii •myspace •facebook •youtube •twitter •flash drives •xbox •satellite radio •napster •firefox

What are the different generations doing with their media? The Generation-C ingest a daily diet of media and technology. They can operate in “techno-cocoons” where 8 out of 10 teens “can’t imagine a day without technology.”

They are supreme multitaskers and they use different media when multitasking. Why do they multitask so much? Because they can! With all the new technologies it is difficult for them not to multitask. Cell phones, ipods, im, text messaging, internet browsers, dvrs, pip-tv, skype, myspace, facebook …

13-to 17-year olds make and receive 191 phone calls per month. 13-to 17-year-old send and receive an average of 2,899texts per month and 42% of teens say they can text blindfolded.

Larry stated that multitasking is not a reality, it is actually ‘task switching’ and to consider ‘meta-cognition’, the thinking about how their brain works is useful. To support ‘focused attention’, Larry described ‘technology breaks ‘– a strategy that can be used by teachers in their classes, “Ok, take your cell phones out, ‘check in’ for 1 minute, now put them on silent and facedown, now work for 15 minutes.”

‘Tech Breaks’ can help children do better at school because they can concentrate on the tasks in hand and not be distracted by the ‘internal distractions’ that access to smart phones create.

The brain is internally distracting itself because ‘other stuff’ is going on – internal distractors. To let the children know that ‘in 15 mins I will let you use it ‘ – this removes the internal distractions, reassures them that they will get to check all the important things very soon. This is a strategy that parents can use – Tech Break.

It made a lot of sense and we related to it too. (Hence why this blog has taken time to get on line!)

Our brains have different needs. How we think, how your brain works, what is important to your brain, the brains of the children in the classroom, have a huge effect on the way we operate.

Understanding that the children in a class are more than likely to be more familiar and comfortable with the art of texting than the art of face-to-face communication, they would more easily text than make a phone call.

Larry focused in on Facebook and explored how one of its features is the fact that is enables people to rehearse and practise in the virtual and an interesting that Facebook brings about ‘online empathy’, a means to share, ‘empathic’ can happen through txt, through the virtual world. More online empathy you show, the more social support you feel. Learn how to do a better job at being empathic in the real world.

Kids are rehearsing life through these virtual worlds. The boys now spend more time talking to girls on Facebook, tend to spend more time talking to girls for real, now, a more scary idea for boys maybe 30 years ago.

Larry discussed the more worrying sides of these virtual environments and we could conclude that social networks are good and potentially bad.

Larry shared some ways to be positive and work with children to develop ground rules and guidelines.

Does all this electronic communication affect their written communication? Yes and no. They use more “textisms”, write better informal essays, but worse formal letters.

They share thoughts/opinions (blogs/posts), and enjoy creating music, developing videos which they upload to youtube, publishing/posting photos, podcasting, building/maintaining websites

“This is an extremely important issue in understanding how best to parent and educate our youth. Communication is a key element in their daily lives. Several other trends are obvious and noteworthy. Music becomes increasingly important as children move into adolescence, as does text messaging. Interestingly, watching television appears to be more popular among the younger teens than any other group as is video game playing.

Another issue concerning the proliferation of media in our children’s lives concerns where they actually use their media. Universally, psychologists and educators caution against allowing young children to ensconce themselves in bedroom “techno cocoons” for a variety of reasons including parental monitoring and safety. However, my most recent studies of more than 1,300 parents of children and teens between the ages of 6 months and 18 years indicates that many younger children are indeed owning and using technology behind closed bedroom doors. “there is a persistent gap between how today’s digital natives learn in schools and how they work and interact outside of school — a trend that underscores the need for districts to keep pace with technological advances and adapt to students’ learning needs.”

Larry looked at Alvin Toffler’s wave model which explains generational upheaval. The waves broadly define how different technologies have been introduced and “accepted” over the years. Larry said that if you were to plot these waves on a timeline, the points of intersection mean areas of social unrest.

The first few waves were slow in their progress for example, the first , the agricultural period lasted 3,000 years; the second, the industrial 300 years; the 3rd the introduction of the computer took 30 years. We are still close to, and experiencing a few developing, concurrent phases at the moment: the information communication and biotech phases.

The penetration rate of technology, the number of years it takes to achieve 50 million users, is getting faster. Radio – 38 years telephone – 20 years tv – 13 years cell phones – 12 years cable – 10 years internet – 5 years ipod – 3 years facebook – 2 years

New technology is, in some ways, making our lives more difficult because we are continually having to learn more and more . . . . And faster and faster. And sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Young adults seem like they are aliens …particularly when they communicate. LOL Some times, this is deliberate: POS (Parent over shoulder)

In a school and home learning situation careful use of technology keeps students engaged in a personal education experience, helps in issues with boredom. Teachers need to go beyond “stand-and-deliver” or (digital) “Chalk and talk” to capture and keep children’s attention.

It was a pleasure to experience Larry’s session; he doesn’t just talk about his topic, he illustrates it, relates to it personally, rationalizes it, and all of this done with a superb sense of humor and pace. Most definitely someone for those looking for a valuable, thought provoking, informative and challenging speaker.

Category: 2) Useful n Interesting

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