From the head’s desk: 01 October 2021

Deanne King

The pandemic has necessitated the increased and effective use of technology; one may even talk about an immersion into the digital world for schools.

The digital revolution has provided unprecedented access to knowledge and learning, and it has enhanced the educational experience of children. It is possible to say that children now spend much of their time on devices. The digital environment is a complex and challenging one, which our children are expected to navigate in many aspects of their lives. The balancing act required to use it for education, for socialising and for communication is one of the most complex challenges of this century.

Within the cyber world lurk many dangers, from which we need to protect our children, however, we also need to ensure that they have digital access, which gives them advantage in the cyber era. Some of the cyber threats are well documented such as pornography, adult predators and cyber bullying. One of the threats gaining public attention is the harvesting of personal data by tech giants and the right to personal privacy. Other threats are less obvious but have real consequences for our children.

A recent Wall Street Journal article exposed an internal Facebook investigation into one Instagram app. One of the findings of concern was that 32% of teens who were surveyed stated that when they feel bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse. The app also clearly operates as an addictive product and takes a toll on mental health. The investigation has prompted Facebook to research ways into how it can nudge teens to look at different topics and content that inspires and uplifts.

Schools and parents have a responsibility to protect and educate our children about these dangers or harms of the cyber world. Our children, particularly adolescents, must be made aware and reminded that they are also responsible for their behaviour and interactions in the social media space.


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