The breadth of parent opinions on technology is very wide. Philosophies differ from parents who give their 4-year-old a phone and Instagram account to those who wait until high school for a student to have an email address and everything in between. Speaking as a current parent of children between the ages of 1 and 15, navigating this world of technology is hard.
There are no real guidelines or rules for how we should handle it all. With the experiences and exposure of kids being so varied, it can feel like a constant uphill battle—all of which schools should consider. As institutions, we hope to work with parents as partners to help their students become successful. I believe all parents know that the ability to use technology is an important future-ready skill. But the age that we begin and the depth that we go to—that is up for debate.
The Role of Technology
As we think about all the different ways that we use technology during the day, we can see how parents could draw some of these conclusions. I know that we use technology for engaging activities such as the Mimio MyBot educational robotics system, but we use technology for other reasons as well. I have seen teachers use educational games as a reward for hard work or good behavior. I have also seen technology used to help remediate a student who is behind in a subject area. There are so many different uses that I think parents can get confused as to what the role of technology is in our classrooms and our schools.
I think it’s important to hear what all the different concerns are. We must keep in mind that parents are not working against us when it comes to technology use, so it is vital that we really listen to what they are saying.
Here are some examples of concerns parents discussed with me when I was a principal:
Too much screen time: This is obviously a very real concern. We see the impact of this when kids return from summer break after spending eight hours a day playing Fortnite. Screen time can have a negative impact on kids—more so the younger they are.
Lack of movement: Many parents feel students are too sedentary during the day, both at home and at school. The more we park them behind a device, the more likely they are to sit and not move.
Lack of social interactions: Social interactions are what kids need more of, not less. Many parents are worried about the deterioration of social skills that were considered the norm as they were growing up. Parents probably socialized more in person and verbally on the phone than our students do today. Because of this, parents feel that school should be a place to connect socially with other peers, not to disconnect behind a screen.
It can be overused: Like the concern about socialization, some parents feel that if the computer is going to be doing the teaching, then the student might as well be homeschooled. The concern here is that the computer and programs are creeping in and taking the place of instruction from an actual live teacher.
Access to inappropriate material: By far the most common concern that I heard as a principal is students being able to access things that were not appropriate and not necessary for their education. Even with the best filters in the world, there are still times when inappropriate content gets through. This goes hand in hand with the argument that the use of technology is unnecessary at times. For example, why use a calculator on the computer when you could learn more by doing the work by hand?
Not focusing on educational use: Many parents are concerned that all their students are doing is listening to music and playing games. This, of course, is usually not an accurate statement, but it does speak to how the teacher happens to be maximizing the use of technology in the classroom. There are some classrooms where this is much more of an issue than it is in others.
These are not all the concerns, but most of the top ones that I have heard. As I stated at the beginning, there is a very wide range of parenting preferences and priorities when it comes to technology and students.
After reading through all of these concerns, I’m sure the question that comes to mind is, “How did you respond?” Click here to read more about how teachers and principals can respond to these concerns. And if you would like to get more articles like this delivered to your inbox, subscribe to our Educator blog.>>