Stay Cool Dad


Preparing for the future by Simon Sharwood
November 19, 2006, 12:40 am
Filed under: Just listened to ...

My son goes to school next year. And apparently by the end of his first year he’ll be making his own PowerPoint presentations, thanks to a tech-savvy principal and a progressive school.

I’m cool with that  (even if I am a tad alarmed he won’t be making OpenOffice Impress presentations).

But I  am utterly terrified with what comes after that.

You see I have just spent the last week as the official blogger at Gartner Symposium, a tech talkfest in Sydney where analysts galore advise IT execs on how to go about their business.

The big theme this year was how to deliver services to digital natives.

Like my Son.

That’s when things got scary, as the analysts started to describe the behaviours digital natives display, such as:

  • Coming home from school, logging on to IM and sustaining half a dozen concurrent conversations while also watching a window of TV
  • Disdaining learning ‘because I can always Google it when I need to know about it’
  • Insisting that boundaries between work and play are fluid and determined largely by the proximity of deadlines

This comes after I recently spoke with a youth researcher who describer the rising generation as completely uninterested in punctuality because they can simply call you on their mobiles to tell you they are going to be late.

She called them “a generation who do not have a sense of time or manners.”

So here I am, with a kid about to go to school and get introduced to this stuff

What am I supposed to do? Digitally “ground” him and cut him off from his peers?

It seems there are no rules, no signposts, almost no recorded experiences whatsoever about how to create a safe digital media environment for kids. And by safe I don’t only mean keeping them away from online creeps (and worse). I want to also make sure that the kids’ digital experiences help make them fine human beings who do have manners and enough respect for others that they will bother to show up on time for things instead of using technology as a ‘get out of jail’ card whenever it suits them.

Clearly, much more thinking, reading and discussion are required.

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3 Comments so far
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I’ve been thinking about similar issues. I think I expect my son’s school to teach him about reading, counting, arithmetic, history, science, etcetera. I expect to do plenty of topping up of these too.

I expect that my wife and I shall have to teach him about decent values life the ones you mention. The punctuality/respect duality. Manners. Please. Thank you. Other courtesies. Kindness.

The Good Weekend magazine had a mini profile of Angry
Anderson a few months ago. He said the most important lesson he learned was the advice from his mother that, “A child without manners is never welcome anywhere.”

Well said. I’ve kept it in mind.

I’ve that in mind.

Comment by Bob Meade

I’ve been thinking about similar issues. I think I expect my son’s school to teach him about reading, counting, arithmetic, history, science, etcetera. I expect to do plenty of topping up of these too.

I expect that my wife and I shall have to teach him about decent values like the ones you mention. The punctuality/respect duality. Manners. Please. Thank you. Other courtesies. Kindness.

The Good Weekend magazine had a mini profile of Angry
Anderson a few months ago. He said the most important lesson he learned was the advice from his mother that, “A child without manners is never welcome anywhere.”

Well said. I’ve kept it in mind.

I’ve that in mind.

Comment by Bob Meade

I think it is a really valid concern. I watch my friends with teenage daughters and they seem to do all their post-school conversations online and have the attention span of a about 3 milli seconds. Is this different from the fact that I walked home from school with a firend and immediatly rang her or another to talk for hours on end? I don’t know.

Two years into school and I confess it is challenging to have others influence your child about what is right and wrong, rude and polite, helpful and not helpful, funny and not funny. I guess the real challenge of parenthood is hoping we instill common sense and a sense of self and how we would like to be treated and treat others as our influence lessens or that of others increases so that the medium of communication is not the issue it is the communication itself is valued.

Comment by Annette




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