The Road Ahead for Technology

by Shikha Das Shankar and Priyanka Raha ~ Oct 18, 2018

Digital Citizenship

A UK-based research agency in a report called “The Rise and Impact of Digital Amnesia,” explains why over-reliance on digital technology is limiting our ability to create lasting memory. Humans are now more likely to forget a phone number or a piece of information after they are done using it.

The World Health Organization added gaming disorder to the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases—an international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions used by medical practitioners around globally.

In 1995, the first Center for Internet Addiction was established and so was coined the term Internet addiction disorder. 

As technology made inroads into our lives so did issues like these. We were overdue a rethink on how to safeguard our interest in light of technology’s exponential growth. There were escalating concerns about the effects of technology, especially on children, as digital media is giving rise to a breed of distracted youth, privacy issues and tech addiction. 

So why is a technology company in the making talking about woes of the digital era?

Because we believe technology can be used without being a hindrance to our cognitive skills — if we use it as a tool.

Because we believe technology is more likely to benefit our children by teaching them new skills rather than turning them into technology addicts—if we teach them balance.

Because we believe technology can have ethics and moral value as an objective—if we are taught not to cross the thin line demarcating use and misuse.

As we celebrate Digital Citizenship week, it is optimal for PopSmartKids as a community, to highlight the efforts of a few notable organizations that are inspiring us to build a digital platform that lives up to the need of the hour — bundle creativity and learning with ethical and sustainable digital practices.

We want to be part of technology’s growth story but also be a part of the change that these three organizations are bringing about – advocating for making the digital world a smarter, safer and more ethical place for us and for the generations to come.

Center For Humane Technology

As technologists working at big technology companies, developing technology that we have at our hands today, they were also noticing some disturbing trends surfacing with the spread of those technologies. Short of stirring up a tumult, these people—former tech insiders and CEOs of tech companies — joined hands and vowed to be catalyst of change.

And thus was created the Center for Humane Technology that is “realigning technology with humanity’s best interest.” They believe that technologies, predominantly made by a few tech giants, that surround us are eroding important pillars of our society. Using persuasive techniques for having us glued to our devices and putting profit over ethics are what they are fighting against. The organization is helping bring about change in the way technology is designed, by pushing for humane design standards, policy and business model changes.

Earlier this year the organization tied-up with a prominent advocacy organization for children, Common Sense, to launch a campaign called the Truth About Tech. The initiative aims to protect young minds from potentially harmful manipulation and addiction of the digital media. They aim to achieve this objective by putting pressure on technology companies to make design products that are less intrusive and less addictive.  

Common Sense

Common Sense had earned the trust of more than 80 million consumers who seek objective information on their website in pursuit of quality screentime for children. For 15 years, the nonprofit organization has been helping children thrive in the digital world by providing parents and teachers with advice and information on how to make smart screen choices for our children. They offer innovative tools to parents and teachers to help reach digital media’s full potential, and thus, empower them to teach children how to use technology wisely.

Common Sense works in threefold, namely, Common Sense Media, Common Sense Education and Common Sense Action Kids, each branch working as guides for families, educators for children, and advocators for policy and business change, respectively.

It’s very likely that you pop open your browser to commonsensemedia.org, find the rating of the show on the website and read the parent-generated reviews in satisfaction before you nod your head in approval to your child’s request to watch a new show. If you are a family with children, an educator or someone interested in figuring out how best to use the digital space to benefit young minds, your search will inevitability land you on one of Common Sense webpages.

International Society for Technology in Education

International Society for Technology in Education or more popularly known as ISTE is a community of passionate global educators who believe that technology can be harnessed to devise creative ways to solve difficult problems in education. Technology has become an integral part of our lives and as adults we use it to accomplish multiple tasks during the day. Given how the world has changed, we need to revisit how we educate our children. ISTE upholds that mission through its multiple events, guidelines and evidence-based professional learning for educators.

Navigating this digitally interconnected world is tricky for educators because they have to prepare the next generation to thrive in this world. ISTE Standards are guidelines that help educators, education leaders, coaches and students. It is not like the job of the educators was ever easy, now they need to align the lessons so that they can help students build the digital age skills. ISTE plays a huge role in assisting teachers with reinventing the pedagogical needs to support student achievement. Digital Citizenship is in the core and heart of what ISTE is. The organization strives to use the potential of technology to allow ‘humans to create, to dream and to change the world’.

What we love about ISTE is its relentless focus on how best to use digital media to ‘bridge the gap from where we are to where we need to be’. It does so by defining standards for coaches so they can help the educators design tools that can best support learning for students to equip them for the digital age. When it comes to technology for education, the baton lies not just with the educators and coaches, the support of the education leaders is imperative so they can design innovative tools using technology that is not for the sake of technology but for the sake of education and learning.

As a society in need of being constantly connected, judicious use of technology is possible and should be the obvious choice. The efforts of organizations like the Center for Humane Technology, Common Sense and International Society for Technology in Education, are carving the way for realizing those thoughts.

Shikha Das Shankar is a freelance storyteller. Multitasking dragon slayer mom. Happy hiker. When not writing, she loves hiking with her favorite trio—the son, the daughter and the husband or cooking her favorite foods in her de-stressing zone, the kitchen.

Priyanka is the Founder and CEO of PopSmartKids, a company created to foster social-emotional learning in children by effective use of technology. A graduate from Purdue University she left her career as a tech exec in 2018 to start a movement of redefining screentime from a monitored time to a powerful tool for mentoring our future generation. She is a mom to two clever boys and a big advocate of digital citizenship for children.