e-health and safety

Having watched this BBC programme on the rise of the web (part of the Virtual Revolution series) I thought I would just consider one of the issues it raises for me.

The programme focuses heavily on the way children are developing in a world saturated with technology and consistent digital advances. Whilst recognising the advances as positive, Dr Aleks Krotoski explores the effect it is having on the physical development of children, their brains and their senses. She suggests that children’s senses are developing to rely on screens and that the web is distorting their view of reality. The reality is that children aged 3-5 in South Korea (the most wired country on the planet) are spending on average 8 hours a week looking at life through a screen. Some older children and adults spend up to 18 hours a day on a computer – a statistic that has led to a national government agency for Internet addiction. Will people soon be attending Internetics Anonymous for counseling on how to cope with giving up life on the web?

It is this shocking statistic that made me think. With children spending ever increasing amounts of time in front of screens, should we teach e-health alongside e-safety in schools? Certainly there is a wealth of information available to the public about effective posture when using a computer, about how to minimise eye strain using screens, but are children accessing and understanding it? As teachers it is our responsibility to ensure the children in our care are developing digital literacy and I would put forward that ensuring medical safety whilst using new technology is a part of this.

I am annoyed by health and safety laws in the public domain as I’m sure a great deal of people are. The fact that a risk assessment needs to be done and an engineer called out before fitting a new light bulb in an office is simply ridiculous. However, if I believe strongly that new technologies are immensly beneficial for children’s learning and I promote their use in school (which I do), I have a duty to keep children in good health whilst they use this technology more regularly too.

Any thoughts?

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