REFLECTIONS ON TECHNOPHOBIA
This is the time of year when adults remember times past. We recall the things that brought us joy as children - and we try to bring that remembrance to our own children in the hope that the next generation will understand something about us, and about what our lives have meant.
The most incomprehensible aspect of our children's lives (at least to some of us) is the rapid proliferation of computer-assisted appliances - from wordprocessors to home security units, CD and DVD drives to voice-recognition software. Isn't it interesting that our parents found the Beatles' haircuts morally reprehensible, and we have trouble with computer applications and hardware? It is curious that the most politically conscious, ethically aware generation in recent American history should be so daunted by something so clear-cut and straightforward.
Let's consider the bottom line for our kids. Medicine is already heavily dependent on computers at every level of care; every academic discipline relies on the Internet for effective discourse; good teachers use all available technology to bring knowledge to life. Every career will be affected by computer technology to an extent that we cannot even comprehend. And children who aren't exposed early to computer conventions will find themselves behind the pack. Public schools simply do not have the resources to keep up. So how do you, a responsible parent, make certain your kids get the education they really need?
1) Stop the "I don't understand a thing about computers" jargon and understand that it's not good to discount a very important part of your kids' lives because you feel inadequate, or because you can't be bothered. Computer technology - in whatever permutation - is, and will be, a permanent part of all of our lives from now on.
2) Everyday life prevents most people from maintaining a watchful eye on their kids' use of the Internet and of children's software. We need to spend time investigating the various online services, as well as all computer games, educational and otherwise, before we give the kids a green light.
3) Educate yourselves. Learn about hardware, software, the Web, E-mail, and CD/DVD-ROM. Seek out facilities which offer quality classes for adults (ComputED is a good place to start. Our Educational Software Preview Center can keep you in touch with the latest and best children's titles).
The bottom line is: It's no longer cute to claim to be technophobic.