Monday, August 23, 2010

Technology and the Digital Natives

We hear all the time about our digital natives, their need for 21st century skills and their total immersion in 21st century technology. This morning, the following thought occurred to me:
Our kids don't need any training / help / instruction / encouragement with social networks and tech. They've got that in spades already. What they need is to control their social life and learn the unsocial 21st century skills.
My son was sitting on the coach with his wireless laptop, playing World of Warcraft with Facebook open in another window, his band's Myspace open in another and an IM session running ... then his phone rang. The TV was showing iCarly or Spongebob.

If anything, kids need to be pulled back and calmed down when it comes to social media and web 2.0. They've stayed at the banquet table too long and gorged themselves on every privacy exposure they could find. There are ways to reduce your public exposure, but many settings were deliberately left obfuscated so kids wouldn't understand what they were throwing away. Marketing, of course.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt in Wall Street Journal: "In the future, the passage from teenage life to adulthood will include an automatic name change 'in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites.' "

I don't think it needs to be that way and it's not too late. Everyone should simply change their names now on all social media accounts. As I said last month, put up a fake persona. We all need to do that: our social life gets a fake persona ("Harold the Magnificent"), work and serious life gets the true stuff, and never the twain shall meet.

Back in the classroom, what our kids really need for the "real world" and for "work in the 21st century" is to learn and make better use of the non-social tools. You know: spreadsheets, word documents, email, writing, publishing, graphic arts, WolframAlpha and calculators, online references and other tools ... whether Excel, Google Docs, blogs, OpenOffice, forums, wikis, etc.  They need to consider their words, slow down their minds and stop blaring out any random fluttering thought.

We need a catchier word for it. though. What's the opposite of "social media?"

Anti-social ... no.
Non-social ... that doesn't seem right either. It's serious but needs to be shared.
Web 2.x ... not descriptive enough.
unsocial ... oh sure, make a geek joke, why don't you?

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