Thanks to jessyjay for this article. Working in a school I hear many parents share their concerns about the amount of time their children spend on the computer in online games or using the PlayStation or X-Box etc. Most primary-junior secondary students in my school can have very detailed conversations about ‘Minecraft’ and ‘Plants and Zombies’ (to name a few) and their parents are concerned about the amount of time they want to spend on these games. I think that like anything else, children need a balance of online activities and communicating face to face with the important people in their lives. When one activity takes over most of a person’s time they neglect the other parts of their life and lose a healthy balance. Some parents have suggested that their children’s online presence borders on obsession and that is all they talk about.
When I was looking at the ICT Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum and content for year 1, there appears to be a variety of activities where children used the computer for educational games to extend learning or revise concepts. There were also tasks where ICT was used as a tool to create and design, investigate topics and locate information for projects and communicate with peers (e.g. via Kids blogs, wikis etc.) Of huge importance is that children learn how to use ICT responsibly (access safe sites and do not give out personal information) and ethically (what is ok to say to another person and avoid what is offensive). When ICT is used in this way and for these purposes, it becomes a valuable tool in a child’s life and helps them to understand its place in their life. As ICT is part of 21st century life and isn’t going away – the best plan for young children is not to avoid it but to encourage children to use ICT responsibly, as a tool for a purpose, know how to use it safely and ethically, and gain a healthy perspective of the place it should have in their lives.