Parenting today is very technological affair. Many are spending several hours a day in front of screens and their personal time is eroded by the work-email that rolls in with a demanding ‘ding’ to their phone hours after they stopped being paid.
Managers are quite open about their need and right to do this. The labour market allows them this luxury, with increasing casualisation and demands presented as opportunities. Overall, parent’s are finding it hard to firewall their working lives from their private. Unimaginative politicians routinely defer any reform decisions about the labour market, taxation and basic infrastructure. The resulting effect on public services, transport and culture is one wherein parenting today occurs inside incomparable environments to the last decade. Of course parents of teens today began parenting pre-iPhone and pre-3G/4G. The patterns and routines they developed around television and DVDs, then later, using the family computer have little value or relevance to 2016.
The media onslaught which specifically targets children – especially tweens and teens. Global brands use children to access parent belief and finances in overt and covert media efforts. For example: Teachers routinely push ‘app’s and ‘products’ at parents and children – narrowly subscribing to technological determinism, which I argue masks the novel interest of Gen Xers and is yet to show any benefit to children’s literacy or critical thinking. Additionally, teachers remain unaccountable for their role in increasing the ‘screen-time’ hours of children. Rhetoric around “21st Century Skills” serves to distract attention away from this social crisis. On one hand we have children being routinely placed in front of media at school (so-called BYOD and 1:1 programs) and on the other, no evidence that what they do with those devices tackles the current media onslaught, let alone improve established academic outcomes.
This leaves parents with a perpetual media crisis, playing out in a recurrent drama in their own home. Their own media use clashes with children’s demands to use devices likewise; parents don’t understand the need for devices in homework or school work and brands leverage this confusion and anxiety to suggest buying newer and more accessible devices is the social and academic solution.
Parents have a right – and a duty – to demand teachers account for the hours they insist student’s spend on devices. We know good teachers will quickly present pedagogical imperatives for this, however, plenty of teachers have used computer labs to show DVDs and pass an hour, been resistant to investing personal time in learning about tehnology or simply use it as digital-paper and submission boxes. While the debate about “good and bad technology” and “digital practices” the central issue of SCREEN TIME and what is good for kids is almost never considered. This can be easily shown in the last years worth of #AussieEd chat (which I archive via Google Sheets). No one ever talks about this.
Parents cannot effectively regulate ‘home use’ of screen time if they don’t know what teachers are doing (seemingly not even thinking about it). Teachers have no right to vilitfy children or parents — based on their narrow in-group bias and deterministic representations. Kid need (at most) two hours a day in front of media. Unless teachers start acknowledging they are an increasing part of the problem, we will see parents remain in media-crisis. Very few schools have a media education that is connected to PDHPE, but plenty focus on STEM or other high profile academics.
The number one thing kids need to learn about this term – MEDIA HEALTH. Now find me a bunch of teachers who are talking about that … and not which Google or Apple product they will push onto kids tomorrow.
Thanks to Mrs Brewer for the head-check.