25 May, 2008

Internet Safety IV

Many (translate: most) of my friends and the teachers I know or work with, throw their hands up when it comes to becoming proactive and leaders in helping their children become media literate. They find this notion daunting.

Here follows the three main arguments I hear (over and over again) about why they remain inactive and my counter arguments:

1. Too much information

“There is just too much information out there, I don’t even know where to start.”

Try to imagine the situation where you learn to read in a classroom setting without the help of books and then you enter a public library for the first time. What would you do? Walk away because you are overwhelmed, or seek out the help of the kind and knowledgeable librarian? No one is asking you to be instantly savvy, rather, as a parent and educator, you just have to tread wisely and find someone to guide you.

I was fortunate to “meet” Will Richardson and David Warlick a few years back. They are two educators whose passion, wealth of experiences, and musings, inspired me to reach beyond my initial scepticism and fear to venture out into the wide world available to me through my computer. Through them I “met” other people from various professions, who are exploring exciting and interesting ideas. I can say without a doubt, that over the last five years, I have probably learnt more than I have at any other time since becoming an adult; in part, through the guidance of people active in the Internet, but also through my own humble learning experiences.

2. Too little time

“I just don’t have the time.”

Make time. This is important. There was a time, if someone said to you, “I don’t have time” it was a brush off. A rude brush off. The question we have to pose ourselves as parents is whether our children, internally, interpret our “no time” lifestyle as a brush off or disconnect. Our children are feverishly establishing identities, friendships, job profiles, gaming buddies etc. online. Not knowing personally about the pitfalls and rewards of such activities is tantamount to neglecting our parental responsibilities.

3. Too much crap

“There is just so much crap out there, I couldn’t be bothered wasting my time and energy on it.”

Have you been in a large bookstore or music store recently? Not only is there a lot of crap on the shelves there, but also a good percentage of the content is probably not to your tastes or doesn’t speak to your interests. The whole joy of the Internet is the fact that you can find the mainstream, the eclectic, the good (and I mean veryvery good) and the bad (even, sadly, the criminally bad) right in front of you. In the end, you are responsible for the quality and quantity of the information you read, the activities you participate in, and the people you communicate with on the Internet.

To be continued…


  1. Have been cheering you on for this entire series so far, and this post really hits home for me.

    "Information overload" is something that gets talked about a good bit in librarianship, but I rather feel like it's a cop-out. We are quite capable of controlling the amount and type of information we receive--and do it all the time with books, newspapers, and tv. So why the fuss when we're asked to adapt pre-existing skills to a new(er) medium?

  2. Oh yes, for this will be their world in a form we cannot imagine. Parents and teachers must know all about it or they fail their kids. My kids and grandkids are so far beyond me in this, I don't worry. I just hope I can learn enough and fast enough to understand what they are talking about. :)