Ed Talk: The Media Siren
Jennifer & Jonathan Bauer
Can this generation achieve the virtue of being bored? Busy school days, after-school clubs, sports, cultural experiences like art and music lessons, all to keep kids busy – to keep them ‘off the streets’, even though this is a somewhat sheltered life here in Denmark. We know who we are.
Come home. Homework. Dinner. Game time. Favourite YouTuber/TikToker/Instagrammer/anime. Not necessarily in that order. Raise your hand if this sounds familiar!
Stay up late, device tucked under pillow from where it casts a glow upon your child’s face as you peek in at around 11 pm, immediately flickering off to slumber’s pretence. This foreshadows a cranky breakfast, low-learning day, and fear of conflict with media junkies: our children.
Down time is no longer down time. Our brains are on autopilot until we’re granted the good fortune of that gaping yawn. We fight the yawn until it wins and drags our overused machine to sleep.
We are busy. With apps. In fact, there are even apps – media’s methadone – designed to shut down other apps in order to help our children kick the habit and become enriched by all the things that they have little interest in. But at what price?
During the initial withdrawal stages, we are forced to interact with them. Ew! Why do we have to stop binging that series, or quit our mindless games, and get off the hamster wheel that keeps our wheels in motion? No scrolling, tweeting or binging for us.
Is modelling healthy habits fun for us? Is going to the gym, particularly when you’re in terrible shape, fun? Is there family therapy or a 12-step program for all of us? This is the ice cream we forbid our kids from eating on a regular basis. The same ice cream that we pull from the freezer while they sleep?
Who remembers hours of TV? Vegging in front of the [pre-you] tube? Did we turn out okay? We played outside too, by choice. We came up with fantastic ideas out of boredom. Some of us didn’t finish our homework because we were either busy socialising, creating or procrastinating, but we were not slaves to media. Or were we?
Perhaps it’s time for comprehensive work to be done in schools in conjunction with parents in order to create an equally potent monster to combat these media giants? How effectively are children learning, acquiring and retaining knowledge, and problem solving?
In Denmark, we have the good fortune of a national curriculum where there is room to face challenges that the latest forms of technology pose.
But it needs conviction
How can we protect our kids and ourselves from this monster? Do we bother trying? How much time do we even have on this planet? Maybe we’re too busy binging to notice the frightening changes brought on by the impending effluvium.
Do we continue to ’chase the dragon’ and rationalise how technology is a beast that has been growing at an exponentially fast pace, and who are we to stand in its way? If you can’t beat ‘em, do we just succumb to the collective ‘crack pipe’ and enjoy the ride with our kids?
Or are you up for facing these challenges? If so, what would you do?
Jennifer & Jonathan Bauer
Jennifer and Jonathan Bauer are both teachers. Jennifer is from Chicago, and Jonathan is from New York. Jennifer has been teaching for 14 years and Jonathan for 11. They are parents and amateur Epicureans. Jennifer currently teaches privately. For more information, go to jennibauer.com.