I haven’t been able to get this out of my mind recently… even though I’ve tweeted about it several times, posted notes on my Facebook account, etc.
I have a genuine concern for what kids learned from the election process, and it definitely ties into 21st century skills, too.
Web 2.0 has changed politics forever. With 24/7 information, media saturation, billboards, text messages, blogs, groups on both MySpace and Facebook, young people in this country (and even those in other countries) have been inundated with political opinions. In fact, you would have to live under a rock to have avoided hearing anything political in the US during the last year.
Sure, satire is one thing (SNL had some really funny skits!). But what messages did young people really receive from this information deluge? More importantly, beyond the messages from the media, what did our children learn from the adults around them?
In my opinion, they learned:
- It’s acceptable to verbally bash the candidate(s) who are opposing your chosen candidate(s)- or translate that verbal bashing into blog posts or status updates.
- Adults can join groups or add badges/bumper stickers to their social media that portray a political candidate in a derogatory manner.
- Adults don’t have to “agree to disagree,” even though that’s what they preach to kids.
Is that really what we want our kids to learn about democracy? Does the right of free speech negate our obligation to make responsible decisions about what we say and publish?
I listened to my own children, their friends (all teenagers), and younger children in our community… and I have to say that I’m very disappointed in what they’ve gleaned from this process. I’m also disappointed in my peers: for what I’ve read on Twitter, on their blogs, on their social sites. It was equal opportunity bashing… for every person badmouthing Democrats, there was someone badmouthing Republicans. Maybe I expected too much from people I respect; or that, because they are educated people, that they would make better choices in what they display in online forums.
Because… aren’t we all advocating that students be taught about responsible, digital citizenship? Don’t we tell kids to think carefully and thoughtfully about the comments they make online– constructive critique is always better than flaming or insulting comments? What do we tell kids about publishing disparaging remarks about someone else?
Are we modeling what we expect from digital kids?