Digital Immigrants Teaching Digital Natives

Tracy Webb (bio) reminds us that adults have provided the technology and must guide students in managing it — even if the students are more savvy technologically.

When you put a small piece of incredibly complicated technology in the hands of, say, a 14-year-old and expect them to use it properly, safely, or perhaps like an adult might use it, it's hard, because their brains aren't developed and they don't have the conflict resolution skills, the reasoning skills, to deal with it properly.

So I mean, from an adult standpoint, whether it's a teacher or a school administrator or a parent, we give them this technology, whether it's an iPad based in the schools or whether it's their very own smartphone so we can keep in touch with them. Then they misuse it and then we say, "What were you thinking?" Then we have to remember that they really can't think the way adults can think.

So it's really sort of incumbent upon the adults to figure out a way to monitor it and figure out a way to keep them safe and still allow them to use it for the vast educational resources that it has.

You can have blocks, and you can do what some districts have done now where they're monitoring everything that the kids are doing. So you have to sort of decide how much of this big brother do we want in our lives, in our children's lives, and how far do we need to go in order to protect them.

Do we do it by teaching them the skills, by teaching them the proper way to use it and then hope they listen to us, or do we model good behavior by the adults in their lives making sure that they don't do the same things in many ways that some of the kids are doing? Do we deal with it through the media or do we come up with some other creative ways?

From a law enforcement standpoint, obviously we have that hammer of, if you break the law then you get punished and you potentially pay the price, go to jail, whatever it is. But my own personal opinion is that I think that should be the last resort. I think there are probably some situations and some people that they need that sort of strong arm of the law, if you will, to either teach them a lesson or punish them accordingly. I think the better way, especially when dealing with children, is the awareness piece, the modeling, the outreach, the community awareness, which means we first have to teach the adults. Then we have to teach the kids.

I often wonder, we're teaching a generation of digital natives, if you will, but they're being taught by those of us who are not digital natives. So it's a matter of sort of digital immigrants, if you will, teaching digital natives who are way smarter than we are for the most part about the technology. So I wonder, sort of next generation, when the digital natives are teaching their own digital natives, maybe it'll be better, maybe it'll be easier, maybe they'll understand it better in order to model it and teach it. But we've got this in-between generation that we've got to protect right now.

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Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2013 in Santa Monica, CA.


More About "Bullying / Cyberbullying"


More From Tracy Webb (bio)

  • Cyberbullying Defined

  • Resources for Dealing With Cyberbullying in Schools

  • Talk to the Digital Natives

  • The Proof Is in the Technology