Page last updated at 01:43 Asia/Manila, Wednesday, 16 March 2016 PH
Child rearing in the twenty first century is getting to be more complex and demanding. As the millennials (all those born after 1982) become parents themselves, the generations born to them belong to a highly interconnected world unfamiliar to them. As European educator Jose Manuel Martin and his co-authors of a publication entitled “Education in the Family” wrote: “The new generations…gain quick access to the Internet, social networks, chat rooms and video game consoles. Their learning ability in this area progresses at the same breakneck pace as the development of these new technologies. From an early age, children and young people are exposed to a world seemingly without border. This situation offers a lot of benefits, but also involves some risks that make parental closeness and guidance even more necessary.”
Today, as always, parents have to be the first educators, especially in the nurturing of virtues and values that are needed for an integral human development. Schools and other institutions like media and the entertainment world can only supplement what has to be primarily done at home. That is why it is necessary for parents to take a positive attitude towards the “digital age.” As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote, “if used wisely technology can contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being.” Unfortunately, there is a negative side to technology. For example, children’s overexposure to screens has been tied to health risks such as obesity, and aggressive or disruptive behavior at school. These health risks are not the worst: children’s character can be weakened, if not significantly destroyed by exposure to pornographic sites and violent video programs.
Parents have the responsibility to acquire a minimum knowledge of digital technology and the environment to which their children are exposed. Technology shapes to a great extent the lives of people today. Parents have to make sure that they are in control of it so that its use helps everyone to grow in virtue (starting, of course with the parents themselves). With sufficient understanding of the uses of digital technology, they will be enabled to develop sound criteria and guide their children correctly. As Professor Martin et al wrote: “The experience of recent years shows that the new technologies are not just a tool to improve in the reach and level of communication. In a certain sense, they have become an environment, a ‘place’ and one of the connecting elements in our culture, by which personal identity is expressed.”
Thanks to Character Education Partnership Philippines, parents and educators in key cities of the country can grow in knowledge of digital technology as it affects the character formation of their children through lectures to be delivered from March 1 to 7 by an international expert on Teaching the Digital Generation for Character. Dr. Hall Urban, one of the pillars of character education in the United States, will conduct conferences and symposia in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Binalonan Pangasinan. Dr. Urban is the author of six books, all with a focus on good character. His first book, Life’s Greatest Lessons, was selected by Writer’s Digest as the Inspirational Book of the Year. He does one-hour keynote addresses, two-day workshops and everything in between. He has made more than a thousand presentations in forty three states in the U.S. and eight foreign countries since 1992. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in history, and a Doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco. For thirty-six years, he was an award-winning teacher at San Carlos and Woodside High Schools and in his alma mater, the University of San Francisco.
In Cebu, he will be hosted by the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE) which will organize several conferences at the Waterfront Hotel. In Binalonan Pangasinan, he will be hosted by the Mayor who is assembling 1,000 teachers in the morning and another 1,000 in the afternoon. At the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), he will address teachers on March 4 in the afternoon at the Li Seng Giap Auditorium. Those interested in attending some of the sessions may call Mann Rentoy at 0908-864-8491 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For comments, my email address is email@example.com.