I apologize for this posting being a day late, but yesterday I got the stomach bug the students at our school have been so willingly passing around.  Technology was both my tormentor and my salvation.  I tried to have the television on, just to make the miserable hours go faster, but every other add showed and described some type of food that just sent me running back to the bathroom.  My husband was coming back from Maryland, and I used technology in the form of my phone to give him a very detailed list of items I wanted him to buy and bring to me:  cold 7-up, applesauce, bananas, and Emotrol.  I cannot tell you how good the 7-up and applesauce were!

    We have recently been going around and around with one of my high school classes about use of their cell phones.  Their faces are always stuck on their phones.  They just don’t seem to see a problem with it.  I banned their phones in class, but some still brought them out.  At the height of the problem, I made them all put their phones in my room.  That’s when I started searching for a compromise.  You see, I know that these kids were also using their phones to look up formulas and as calculators.  Sure, they could find the formula in their books, but that would require they know how to use an index, and I don’t think they ever have.  Why would they, when the information is a “search” away? 

    This dependency on their phones is not foreign to the rest of us.  Having a complete computer in our pocket is amazing.  I wish I would have had one during college.  I cannot fault them for learning to depend upon it for just about every bit of information they need.

    So, I will just highlight the pitfalls of technology that I see in school-aged children.  The first is that of teaching the letters to PK and Kindergartners using iPads or typing.  Can you tell the difference between the key for the letter “t” and the key for the letter “m”?  They feel exactly the same, right?  The problem with using these items to teach the letters is that there is no distinction between the letters.  Teach the letters through writing, through playdough, through something tangible.  Then differences are noted.

   The second is that of teaching your child his address and phone number.  We adults are guilty of not knowing phone numbers because of our phones, but a child needs to know these things in case he gets lost.  The quickest way back to you is a phone call.  Teach him his phone number and address.

   This one is definitely my own feelings, but YOU bought the piece of technology, so YOU have complete authority over it.  Allowing your child his privacy on technology is the recipe for disaster.  There is an age at which more privacy can be given, and that age is determined by the parent.  That age, however, is not in elementary school!  We as parents have an obligation to protect our children.  Allowing them to surf and post and chat without some kind of supervision is just the same as allowing them to roam the streets of a busy city alone. 

    I would ask one last thing of you the parent regarding technology:  please help your child to know that nothing posted is private.  It does not matter if only a select group of friends are reading it, anybody can read it.  My father always taught me not to write down anything in anger.  It’s impossible to prove you meant no malice when it’s there in black-and-white!

    The advances in technology have made life so much easier... and so much harder.  The book 1984 asked us to visualize a world with cameras in every room.  They called it “Big Brother.”  My kids are always mortified to think of such a thing, until I point out that they carry “big Brother” with them everywhere they go… even into the bathroom!  We must protect ourselves and our kids from the multitude of ways technology can be used against us.

-        Michelle