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The Internet: Our Savior?

I love, love, love the Internet. But I have to say, I’m very hesitant about how I’m going to allow my children to interact with it when they are older. Will I allow them to visit Web sites, chat online, or create their own blog?

How does a mom who loves the computer resist allowing her children to enjoy it, too?

I’m concerned about sexual predators and the naivety of children to give away too much information. But I’m more concerned about how the computer is replacing important elements of life.

No longer do teachers teach cursive—they teach children to type, they argue, why should they learn to write so extravagantly?

Nickelodeon, the number one rated kids’ TV channel, actually has to go off air for their “Day of Play” to encourage kids to turn off the TV and go outside. (Even then, cartoon characters can be seen playing on the screen—no doubt some children sit and watch them.)

It’s practically impossible to find on your local superstore shelf a toy that doesn’t talk, light up, or make noise ... even for the youngest of them.

Author of Last Child in the Woods Richard Louv says, “For a whole generation of kids, direct experiences in the backyard, in the tool shed, in the fields, and woods has been replaced by indirect learning, through machines.”

I witnessed this first hand the other day during a visit to a middle school near my home. I worked with two students on a history project. When I asked one of the students a related history question about what they were working on, the student pointed to the back of the classroom and said, “I don’t know. I would find out but the computers are all being used.”

I looked to the three computers in the back of the room and then glanced over to the left wall where stacks and stacks of excellent books on the topic laid. Clearly, it was the computers that the student felt was the best resource for learning about history.

Soon afterward, I visited a class right down the hall from this class. I walked in as a teacher was explaining directions to an assignment. The PowerPoint assignment didn’t seem to faze the students. They obviously use technology in the classroom often. But then she went on to explain how they could just download the information from the school computers, put it on their jump drives, and transfer it to their home computers.

Jump drive? These children have their own individual jump drives? And they do their homework on the school computers to come home and work on their home computers? I wondered just how many of them have their own laptops.

And then I thought: will my Little Bear need his own laptop in sixth grade?!

I love the Internet. But I don’t love how our children are losing out on direct learning. It makes me want to throw my computer out the window.

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