Accentuate the Tech Positive

Techno-fear: a state where humans feel they are losing control due to advances in technology.*

Nearly every day, I’m bombarded by statements – in person or via some news outlet- expressing “techno-fear.” If a young person is in trouble due to something posted to a social network, there is a negative focus on the public nature of the social network. If an adult is fired due to inappropriate photos posted on the web, technology is to blame.

When I begin presentations on web 2.0, usually there is a least one person rolling his eyes or shaking her head when I start to talk about social networks and multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs). The audience assumes I’m going to talk about the dangers of these web environments.

Instead, the focus should be how these tools are used positively, how they can elevate thinking, and how they engage users. We can also discuss privacy and web permanence… but those don’t have to be scary topics.

How could we all approach these ideas positively with kids?

5 quick starts:

  1. Begin by exploring social networks and MUVEs for yourself. If you don’t understand these environments, you can’t speak the language… nor can you make any accurate judgments about their usefulness. (Darren Draper wrote a great blog post today about “immersion.”)
  2. Start genuinely talking to kids and asking them what they do online. Be open-minded and really LISTEN.
  3. Take note of all the good things that are happening online with kids; e.g., young people were more involved in the 2008 election than ever before, because of online political groups, forums, blogs, etc.
  4. Remember- technology is only a tool. We have to learn to use tools properly. When we don’t, we make mistakes. If students have no guidance about online activity, how will they know what it takes to be good digital citizens?
  5. Stay positive. Think about all the amazing things technology provides us today. Personally, I’m thankful that I don’t have to grind my own ink and write with a quill.


look again at my definition of ‘techno-fear’:

a state where humans feel they are losing control due to advances in technology

and remember “control” is an illusion.

*This is my own definition of ‘techno-fear.’ You can find Webster’s definition of technofear at

One thought on “Accentuate the Tech Positive

  1. Michelle, you’ve succinctly expressed an idea that I’ve been trying to draw together for awhile. I totally agree that there is a lot of ‘techno-fear’ out there. So, when I taught a unit about computer games last year I had my students choose an issue negatively portrayed in the media and argue both sides (eg. computer games lead to obesity). It really helped their (and their parents’) levels of technofear. I just need to remember this (and your 5 quick steps) when talking to parents, colleagues, and the school’s leadership team.

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