Although I now work as a teacher, I used to be a librarian, and I am happy to post book reviews as I find interesting books. Danah Boyd has written the book "It's complicated - the social lives of networked teens" in which she describes young people's usage of social media. It's an exciting and complex world that opens up as you read the book. A lot has happened since I was a teenager, but at the same time, everything is pretty much as it has always been in the world of young people.
Boyd's ambition is to describe the teenager's use of social media from their perspective, and she does it brilliantly! We get to come into a world where teens try to create their own identity, where friends are essential and where various dramas occur every day.
Today I was working on an interactive lesson on adjectives with the students. The students see a "Powerpoint" on their Chromebooks with an assignment, and there is a collaborative part included. After the session, I may see how each student solved the assignment, their answers the and how far they've got during the day. Great! . . . or is it really?!
When I look at the results, something just doesn't feel right. Have we taken it too far? I wouldn't want my boss to see how I was working on my tasks, how many mistakes I have made, and how much time I've spent on every assignment. I'm not so sure that my students want it either. One advantage of having an old-fashioned piece of paper is that it is always private.
The past year, the internet has been bubbling with articles about the so-called Momo challenges. Some claim that they don't really exist, others try to warn that these challenges show up everywhere. The Momo challenges aim at children and they gradually get worse as the child plays along in the "game". The last step of the challenge may be to harm yourself or others or to take part in a criminal act. This happens behind the parents' backs and the children are warned to tell anyone what's going on.
The important thing here is not whether the challenges are called Momo or not since it is quite clear that children and young people are tricked into interactions, chain letters, and social contacts they can not handle. All adults surrounding the children have an important task in guiding and leading young people when they start using digital on there own. The text below is intended as a story for young people who do not always see the dangers one can face online.
I am a teacher and I work a lot with digitalization, but I am also a parent and I see how children can at worst behave towards each other in digital worlds. What worries me is how little other adults care about what's going on. When you don't understand, you dismiss it by saying that "they had a fight in some game". Here, the whole adult world must stop turning a blind eye and dare to enter the digital world where children spend so much of their time. It is very much as real as the one we call the real world.
This week it happened again! A crying child called and told me that her house in Minecraft had been destroyed by other children that she thought she could trust. I didn't need to ask why she called me and no other adult. I'm simply the only adult in their lives who listens and takes this kind of problems (this kind of bullying!) seriously. I'm no expert in Minecraft, but I made a decision to try to understand what had happened. The conversation sounded something like this:
I am the technician who became a librarian, but who got tired of the quiet and peaceful life at the library and started working as a teacher. I brought with me everything I knew about databases, information retrieval and networks and soon I was an ICT-educator. Today, I work as a teacher at Komvux in Norrköping.
I have always had a nerdy great interest in technology. I can find interest in everything from robots to model railroads or the steel industry of the industrial revolution. Technology should take us forward and prevent us from everything boring. You need to dare to be somewhat lazy and ask yourself if there is no easier way to get something done. The human desire to get away is what has driven the technical development and find time for other things. Like model railroads, for instance!
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