In her thoughtful NetFamilyNews* post The media monsters we've created for our kids, Anne Collier writes:
By viewing kids as alien life forms called "digital natives," we send the message that children don't need tech-, media-, and social-literacy training to navigate the ocean of information at their fingertips 24/7 and the tricky sometimes harsh waters of digital-media-informed adolescent social development. And by focusing on technology instead of children, we create daunting, new-sounding things to fear like "cyberbullying," directing attention away from the good work already being done against bullying as well as cyberbullying by changing school cultures and teaching and modeling empathy, ethics, and citizenship (at school and online).
By calling our children "digital natives" are we running the risk of giving them too much credit for technology skills? I think it is a risk. And not just in the realm of online safety. I've long argued that knowing how to use spreadsheet no more makes a person numerate than know how to drive a car makes one a plan meaningful trips.
In Old Folks and Technology (2002) I suggested that tech savvy students and world-smart adults team up - that there are still plenty of things those of us raised BC (before computers) can teach even today's kids about technology:
Some technologies Some things with which old people can still help
Spreadsheets Math sense, numeracy, efficiency in design
Charting and graphing software Selecting the right graph for the right purpose
Database design End user consideration, making valid data-driven decisions
Word processing the writing process, organization, editing, grammar, style
Presentation software Speaking skills, graphic design, organization, clarity
Web-page design Design, writing skills, ethical information distribution
Online research Citation of sources, designing good questions, checking validity of data, understanding biases
Video-editing Storyboarding, copyright issues when using film clips and audio
Chat room use/Instant messaging Safety, courtesy, time management
And of course on top of all this now is the intelligent selection of information one wishes to share online.
Anne does a great job of outline two other "monsters" we've created: "the paralyzing remove all risk monster" and "the extrememly busy adult blinding monster." Read the whole post and share it widely.
* NetFamilyNews should be required reading of all parents, teachers and educational policy makers. Anne's posts are always thoughtful and truly balanced observations about both the threats and promises of technology use by kids.