Fascinating article, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction”

The following article from NYT, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction” is an important read for any educator or parent. It raises some interesting questions about how the current generation manages so many digital distractions, and how this could be beneficial or detrimental to their learning.

Read the full article here.

Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.

Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention.

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“Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. And the effects could linger: “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.”

But even as some parents and educators express unease about students’ digital diets, they are intensifying efforts to use technology in the classroom, seeing it as a way to connect with students and give them essential skills. Across the country, schools are equipping themselves with computers, Internet access and mobile devices so they can teach on the students’ technological territory.

Online Safety

Kids’ Rules for Online Safety

  1. I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents’ permission.
  2. I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
  3. I will never agree to get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.
  4. I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
  5. I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the service provider.
  6. I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
  7. I will not give out my Internet password to anyone (even my best friends) other than my parents.
  8. I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly hurt our computer or jeopardize my family’s privacy
  9. I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.
  10. I will help my parents understand how to have fun and learn things online and teach them things about the Internet, computers and other technology.

Borrowed from John Mikton @ his Beyond Digital Wiki: http://beyonddigital.wetpaint.com/page/Safety+Tips

Rules one through six are adapted from the brochure Child Safety on the Information Highway by SafeKids.Com founder Larry Magid. (© 2004 National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). Rules 7 through 10 are copyrighted by Larry Magid (© 2005)