In recent times we have seen our society being divided up and referred to by “cultural generations”. Terms such as The Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y are used to describe groups born within a rough time period that have certain shared cultural experiences.
A term that became popular back in the1960s (and is still widely used today) to describe the differences between generations, is the Generation Gap. Bridging the Generation Gap continues to be a struggle for all parents (and teachers).
Our students belong to what is termed Generation Z - the so-called “net” generation. They have grown up in a highly technological world which has seen them rapidly embrace connected technologies such as mobile phones and the Internet.
In many cases they have left the older generations wondering what this is all about.
As adults we naturally care for their well-being but are often daunted by not understanding the technologies with which they are engaged and fear for their safety.
As this technology is not going away, may I highly commend to all parents and teachers that you, for the sake of your children if not for yourself, take the time to understand your childrens' world. Engage in the online social world so that you are in a position to understand what is really happy.
Just as in so many aspects of life - the media loves nothing more than a story that highlights the negative side of human behaviour. Is it any wonder that all we ever really hear is bad things about the online world???
Whilst FaceBook, Tumblr, MySpace, Twitter, etc may not be for you - get in and find out what its all about. Merely (attempting to) blocking students access to such technology will not help them. Banning them will often only bring resentment.
It is important we build relationships with our children - that they feel they can come to us when they have a problem. They are not going to come to us with an online problem is they feel we are simply going to ban them when they have had a problem online.
At all times, we must always keep in mind that technology in itself is not evil and if a child comes to you with a problem involving technology - that at the heart of the problem is human behaviour.
As a wise colleague once said
"You don't teach healthy living by merely locking the refrigerator".