The solution to the web isn’t a website

This week I’ve done some work around updating the discourse about social media and mobile learning. I’ve made a big effort to reconnect with the core – and really happy to find lots of people have spent 5 or 10 minutes completing my survey. What survey? Well, the one about parenting young kids online – click here and tell me I sent you.

Recent figures out show that kids are not only spending more time online, but they are spending more time streaming and consuming than ever. Teens especially are hitting screens until the fall asleep. The are also not surfing the web anymore. The vast amount of websites and videos they watch – billions of hours a month in Australia alone – are though links … from mobile apps. This means that they are not searching the web – finding their own stuff anymore. Just 9% of kids activity is about learning, news or careers. Well over 60% is about streaming media, music streaming and gaming.

The are also not surfing the web anymore. The vast amount of websites and videos they watch – billions of hours a month in Australia alone – are via links … from mobile apps.

This means that they are not searching the web – finding their own stuff anymore. Just 9% of kids activity is about learning, news or careers. Well over 60% is about streaming media, music streaming and gaming.

The canon of EdTech has always been that  tools  presented and promoted as ‘better’ would also give children the power to read, write and re-write the web. Who didn’t read Will Richardson’s book and think – give me some of them there powerful tools. Of late the message has become a dullness of ‘lack of creativity’, ‘jobs that are not invented’ and ‘this product is what those kids need’. This era is dead. The issue is how do we get kids to log off from consumer culture long enough to sleep. Parents have no idea how to deal with it – most are answeting work emails at 8pm and binge watching season four of Longmire.

The vast numbers also mask the issue of who has access, at what price and how fast.

The poorest people don’t have tablets or laptops. They don’t have computers – they rely on mobile phones and pre-paid data plans to participate online – so the figures don’t indicate how big the have and have-nots has become – just that everything is bigger and getting worse – and it’s societies fault. You’d be forgiven for thinking media is or has been regulated …

While the government avoids the issue of a proper media education agenda, the office for eSafety (yes that’s what they called it) has a website – with things for parents to read and some videos which depict the various monsters under the bed. If you are keen (I was) then you can fill out a massive form, be evaluated and maybe you too could be a ‘volunteer’ to deliver their message in schools and the community.

I don’t deny the need to educate society – after all, people have been calling for ‘media education’ for years – but this is it – a website that assumes parents are going to take a look at themselves and follow the guidelines. One can only assume this cost a small fortune to create and run – but the end node delivery relies on volunteers.

We need (because we pay taxes and are subjected to the media’s onslaught of news, opinion polls and advertising) media education. We need it to be funded. We need actual teachers in school teaching it. We can’t rely on the good will of teachers to do it or for people ‘who know a bit about it’ to become volunteers. That works for traffic management at the Olympics – but I poor response to the government’s own research.

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