“My child spends all morning, all afternoon and all evening on the iPad. What are they doing on the internet? Who is supervising what they are doing? They say it is school work. Is it? I haven’t been informed. My son tells me he is ‘doing research’. My daughter says she has to finish her research for school by tomorrow.”
Do these statements sound all too familiar? The number of times I have heard these phrases recently has made me more determined to ensure parents become more aware of what is going on in schools and what needs to be addressed at home.
Ultimately, the conversation between home and school is vital. It allows parents to understand and be informed of school expectations and intended home-learning; along with tips for guidance and censorship in the home. On the other hand, it is up to the school to allow parents to see how the internet connected devices are being used in the school environment for teaching and learning, developing research skills, ensuring their students understand what is correct information and what is not to enable them to critically analyse information, and to embrace original thought as well as developing quality presentation of work.
“… it is up to the school to allow parents to see how the internet connected devices are being used in the school environment for teaching and learning…”
It is the school’s responsibility to protect and safeguard its students from the immoral and anti-establishment websites that pervade the www whilst they are at school. It is also up to the school to teach their students, the correct way to use social media and how to treat all peers with respect.
This same responsibility is shared with the student’s parents when the child returns home from school and begins work on their connected device. The modelling of positive, moralistic good practice needs to be equally shared by school and home. An advertisement that aired in Thailand some years ago by DTAC called Disconnect to Connect, resonates with me and is a stark reminder of how we, parents need to devote more of their time to their children when at home. The need to talk to children, to engage, to discuss, to question and to love them is something we need to spend more time doing, rather than devoting time to our own obsessions with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the unwieldy WhatsApp forums.
I was born in Australia in the early 60’s and as a youngster, when I returned home from school, I used to enjoy playing a little backyard cricket, touch footy and swimming in our pool, but I also had to complete my chores, work on my homework at the kitchen table with my mother, take a bath and eat dinner before I went to bed. (Well, I didn’t always do my homework!)
Then one day my father bought home a big box that contained a black and white television set. I can still remember it now. The excitement of watching ‘TV’ was something else! One thing that was made very clear to my brothers and sister and I, was that we had to ask before we could watch. Any programme we were going watch had to be something we could all watch together. We had to make sure the content of what we were watching was appropriate. It also didn’t help, that I had to complete homework, complete said chores and be ‘a good boy’ if I was to be permitted to watch any TV at all. My siblings and I were given time limits, we were monitored, and TV viewing was restricted.
“… we were given time limits, we were monitored and viewing was restricted …”
Isn’t this something we as parents should be doing with our children in our homes now; not necessarily with the television, but with their online devices? This is not rocket science. It’s perhaps a newer form of parenting for our children who have been raised in a different time. Our parental responsibility of safeguarding is as important now as it ever has been. It is a shared responsibility between the school and the parent – as both parties have an obligation to monitor what our children are doing on their devices. This same realisation was highlighted in a recent article from Mindshift which discusses the aspect of parents honouring the benefit of the actual device whilst managing usage. Recently, Dr Abdullah Ismail, the Director of The Innovation Center Ajman, and I researched and prepared a paper on the “Parental Perspective on the use of iPads in Primary and Middle Years”. The results from this paper are very relative to this discussion and will be shared shortly when the paper is publicly released.