Monday, June 05, 2006

Headteacher confiscates home computers

Now this is interesting... A BBC News story with the title Head teacher takes home computers caught my eye. On the back of some of Ewan's recent posts from blogs.ac.uk on restricting Internet access in schools, I thought this was going to be a story about schools going even further to restrict pupil access. Thankfully it wasn't, but the story it tells is even more interesting.

The headteacher is concerned about the children in his primary school who have access to TV, computers, Playstations, etc. in their bedrooms. The BBC report doesn't go into great depth, but an article in the Telegraph fills in a bit more background. It seems that at least part of the problem in his school comes from children who are too tired from staying up half the night in their bedrooms playing games and watching TV - so he takes the stuff out their bedrooms! Interesting, yes?

I especially liked this quote:
"It also improved the 'self-esteem' of parents who felt they lacked the authority to do this themselves to their children."
What!? Parents give their children TVs and computers to use unsupervised in their bedrooms and then don't feel they can do anything about the negative effect this has on the children's behaviour and attainment! (*Rant mode off*)

The main reason I wanted to blog about this however, was because of the headlines that drew my attention in the first place. A casual glance suggests that, once again, computers are causing trouble and have to be controlled - thus confirming prejudices. A closer reading suggests a much more complex problem. What do you think?


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8 comments:

doogiec said...

I'm not entirely sure that computers are to blame. I had my stereo in my room but I didn't listen to it at the expense of sleep - a heady mix of Peel and Radio Moscow was enough to put me off to sleep.

So what I'm saying is that some people will stay up all night regardless. Computers and playstations are the available diversion. If they are taken out of the room the kids will in all likelyhood find something else to do or sneak downstairs. They might even read a book!

Another thing to do is to look at the parent's sleep patterns. Do they set a good example?

David said...

These are primary school children aged 11 and under. The target of my rant was really the parents who seemed to accept no responsibility for their own actions and the impact of these actions on their children. I think it goes beyond setting a good example with their own sleep patterns.

Also I would argue that there is a qualitative difference between the level of distraction and engagement provided by a Playstation game and that provided by a book or even the late great John Peel.

However, your general thrust is fair comment... there has to be some personal responsibility and the pupil has to accept that there are consequences attached to their actions.

I think my general point also chimes with what you are saying - don't blame the computer - which is what the headline appeared to do.

Andy Watson said...

I'm totally with you on this, David - keep rant mode on. In our schools, whenever a child is caught accessing an inappropriate website or sharing inappropriate items across the network, we ban them from using the network until the parents come in to discuss the matter. Usually the offending url was discovered at home.

It provides a shock to the kids and shows that we take these things seriously but also gives us a chance to discuss safe use of the internet with parents.

Almost invariably, the kids have unfiltered access to a computer in their bedrooms and the parents have no idea what they're doing or what problems there might be.

You wouldn't give a child a bike and let them loose on the streets without some guidance and training, so why do parents think that they can let kids loose on the web without some advice.

You don't need to remove the computers, just educate the users.

David said...

I suppose the difference is that the parents have at some time ridden a bike themselves and at least have some notion of the dangers involved in riding one. The same may not be true about awareness of unsupervised Internet access... but it's hard to believe they are not aware of basic stuff like bedtimes and telly watching until the wee hours - especially with primary school children.

Alan said...

I was drawn to the story for the same reason. Good headline writing there, maybe they're looking for a job for the Sun or Mirror.

It was shocking that the parents feel that they can't take action in their own home but are happy for the headie to be involved. I don't think parent awareness of the dangers of the net would have an impact. Would they be strong enough to stand up to their children if they demanded filters were turned off. I doubt it.

rae-ann said...

I found myself with a huge smile on my face when I first came across this article - at last, someone standing up and being pro-active with resounding success, so it would seem.

This comment, taken from the article:
"It is about building up the self esteem of the parents too, and putting the power back in their hands."
needs adjusting a little. Surely power for the parents comes from making THEM make the rules about the TVs / computers?
and doesn't it all boil down to this earlier comment:
"When we turn up they are usually absolutely gob-smacked. They are quite taken aback as like lots of kids they might think that adults don't mean what they say."

That is the golden rule imo - mean what you say and say what you mean.

Unfortunately i know several parents, some who are great friends of mine who LOVE it when their children are watching tv or playing on the computer. They actively ENCOURAGE it because they get space and time.

I keep the toys in my daughters room down to an absolute minimum and notice a huge difference in her ability to sleep. When I have a clear out in there I tell her why I am doing it and allow her to choose what she will keep in there. (she has no TV, computers or electronic games).

Since day one, we have had a set bedtime, including pre-bedtime routine and it never shifts. Consequently we NEVER have bedtime battles and she always gets up happy for school the next day.

Now, getting her to eat fruit and veg is a different matter entirely ;-)

David said...

Hello Alan

Yes... good attention grabbing headline, but not entirely helpful. :-)

Hello Rae-Ann

Yes, the phrase that you highlight is the one that tipped me into rant mode! :-)

As for my own children and eating... fruit isn't generally a poblem, but I'm with you 100% on the veg front! :-)

home computers said...

In order to keep kids safe it is important to set ground rules to guarantee the kids learn to value the internet and not plunge into its many unsafe drawbacks. First, parents must put time limit in using computer. The lesser the child spend his time online the lesser the chance for a bit bad to happen. The more the child uses the computer the more it is unsafe and it can also change brain chemistry. Ask the child to go for walk or visit a friend or do some biking. Second, standardize time of day. After school kids are occasionally tired and just need to relax. More often browsing in the internet is the only option. When dinner is done, using internet is the major time. This can draw out into the nighttime keeping the children up. Sleeps plays an important role in the growth and development of our children and if they have deprivation in their sleeping pattern it may cause a harmful effects on them. When the lights set off, the computer should automatically turn off. Third, get an update with your kid on what he did for the day. The participation of a parent can be the main protection method. Talking the activities that kid chip in while on the net can smooth the progress of developing trust. By giving into the routine of inquiring the kid concerning what she or he accomplished, he will be train to anticipate these kinds of query. This can start a good conversation and can act as a pre-emptive restraint against hurtful behavior. Fourth, give details the risks of the web. Understanding is the key. The internet is just an additional room of the actual world; the whole thing in the real world is at hand online. The threats display from kidnapping to robbery and beyond. The internet is the very actual place and it gives the real effect on a child’s life. By giving very important information with the kid, the level of consciousness will develop.