Why I Believe in the Internet

iPad in use

I overheard someone talking a few days ago saying that we are heading for an internet and social media backlash. That it will have its day and we will all come off our devices and head back into the real world before long. Connect with people face to face and explore the countryside with an OS map tucked into a waterproof wallet. Put to one side an era where online communication feels as though it is overtaking offline conversation. Where socialising is reportedly down by 25 minutes a day. I confess that in many ways this would be lovely. A world where we just switched off for a while is certainly an appealing one, but I don’t think that having complete abstinence from the internet and electronic devices is the right idea either.

The internet may have enabled a plethora of social media sites to evolve and take time and attention away from pen to paper communication, telephone usage or face to face coffee breaks, but think about what else it has supported. We can get up to date news and weather at the click of a button. We can research and read areas of special interest, plan days out including the route with timely travel information. We can become involved with a community through our devices at any hour of any day. Yes, the pressure is there, but so is the support, you just need to look in the right places.

Planets in the sky
Looking at planets in the sky using a smartphone app

The internet has a lot to answer for with the seeming demise of local high street stores, but it has also become a place for independent businesses to flourish. You can create an online business from the comfort of your own home if that’s what suits you, making work arguably more accessible.

I couldn’t find any statistics to support my next assumption, but I suspect that charitable fundraising has been able to increase by using the medium of the internet too. Start a page here, drop a link there, and you’re away.

It’s not all about the internet though. With this more accessible online world comes a necessity for technology to support it. We’ve moved on from the first mobile phones that looked like bricks to smartphones. Our computers have become portable with laptops and tablets making it easy to stay connected or work from any chosen location. Hardware and software is being developed at what feels like lightening speed and with it is a need for a generation who can keep up with this evolving world and be part of it.

Even our curriculum is up to speed in this area with young children learning code on programs like Scratch and computer labs being present in primary schools. When I was at school we barely had one computer per classroom never mind a whole suite in the school.

In our homes we have devices – desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. To some they are a nuisance, an interference or a necessary evil. To me they are a part of the world that my children are growing up in, and something that will be as common place to them as pay phones were to us.

Like any new technology, be it the introduction of telephones or internet connected tablets, it’s what you do with it that counts. Devices can be used to play games, read stories or learn how the world works. I do allow our boys limited screen time on a select set of applications which we have carefully chosen for them. This includes the STEM apps from Tinybop (https://tinybop.com/), games for younger children from Sago Mini (https://sagomini.com/en/) and apps that are just plain fun from Toca Boca (https://tocaboca.com/).

Creating on Sago Mini

Recently our eldest has taken an interest in Minecraft, much encouraged by his class mates. After having to learn how it worked for ourselves, we allowed him to have guided play. We’ve overseen how he uses the game and encouraged creative building and exploration. We set time limits on how often and when he can play and this has built a healthy ethos for the boys around device usage.

Minecraft

Everyone needs a balance in where they spend their time. Arguably I’d rather my children engage in the creative build and learning of some of these apps than sit in front of the TV. Like TV, there are good programmes that inspire and educate and those that are repetitive dross.

For us the use of technology isn’t at the expense of walking the dog in the woods or hunting for minibeasts. It complements our life instead through allowing us to look things up and provide the children with wider opportunity for thought processes that will become (and perhaps already are) invariably part of their world.

Amazon alexa dot

What do you think? Do you rue the day the internet was invented or do you actively seek to use it in your every day life? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Embracing the internet with Cup of Toast

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to check out my thoughts on the Hopster app here.

 

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JakiJellz

 

20th September 2018

20 comments

my husbands job is technology and we are very positive about the internet. my boys love minecraft and toccabocca they build rollercoasters, houses, ride horses they play together laughing and talking. They do a huge amount of imaganitve play with these apps its not just starting at a screen, my eldest makes wonderful stop motion movies on his i pad. then they play like crazy on the trampoline, on their bikes and love the garden. its a balance #Blogstravaganza

I agree, it’s about finding the balance. It’s easy enough to take a look at the games before my boys do to ensure their suitability too.

As an autistic I love the interent, makes me feel less isolated and knowing other people have similar experiences has really helped make me accept me X #Blogstravaganza

That’s an interesting viewpoint and a very important one. I think that the positive social element sometimes get forgotten amongst the criticism.

I agree with you on the charity aspect of the internet. Out of all the money I’ve given over the years it’s almost all been on Justgiving and things like that. And we forget how new the internet is relative to our human history. Like cars were a big step forward, but how much different were they really to the horse and carriage? But the internet is like nothing we could have even perceived before it came out. It’s only natural we’re stumbling a bit in how we use it. But it’s not going anywhere, that’s for sure! #Blogstravaganza

Thanks for your comment. I agree. I can’t see that it’s heading for a burnout but I guess we might use it in different ways in years to come, just as we use it differently now than we did before social media was on the scene.

I can’t see it happening, I think we rely too much on the internet. Imagine not being able to do your food shopping, clothes shopping, booking cinema tickets, finding an address etc etc. Oldies like me could probably cope but the kids would have no hope of surviving! Lol #blogstravaganza

Ha! Yes, my sons often say that if we don’t know something we can just look it up on my phone.

The internet has brought great power to share information, to discover and learn, and to keep in touch. I love the fact that the internet has brought me new friends from around the world, and offers a way to share photographs with family and friends who don’t live locally.
People don’t always use the internet responsibly though, as witnessed by the power of fake news, and the use of the dark web. Scamming has also evolved through the internet, with the scams looking ever more legitimate in their origins.
I do think there is a risk that some groups of people will lose the ability to communicate sensibly face to face, and will instead keep in touch online, or become keyboard warriors to express their views without using a filter. There is a lot of hatred online. People seem to think it is okay to use the internet to mock others, air grievances publicly, or just be downright nasty. I also feel frustrated at the number of things which direct people online for more information, for access to services, to get in touch …. not everybody has access to the internet, and not all those who have access actually understand how to use it.
I like the internet for the access it provides to friends and family, to learning opportunities, to information, to shopping, to supporting my business.
I do worry that we rely on the internet for so much that if it were to go down, we would quickly begin to struggle. Unlikely as this is to happen, there is much to be said for learning the ‘old’ ways of getting things done (a basic example is map reading in case SatNav was out), so we can survive without the internet. If we can’t survive without it, then we have a problem.

I have to say I was surprised to learn that part of the practical driving test now is to follow the SatNav. It would be nice to think that there’s some balance and map reading skills are being suggested too. I still drive round with my huge road atlas!

I love this post Jo! It’s very thought provoking. The internet and technology has definitely impacted my life for the better, in so many different ways… I definitely wouldn’t be doing the job that I do, or have the level of freedom that I have, without it.

Thank you! I think that it has its place and isn’t something that we shy away from at all. There are certainly a lot of opportunities created by it.

I think you’re spot on when you say it’s about balance. I think the internet is amazing and it certainly makes life easier in lots of ways. But at the same time, if you rely on it entirely for your entertainment, socialising and learning I think it can end up being limiting. The one thing I’m definitely grateful for is that it has allowed me to keep in touch with friends I made when working abroad 16 years ago. There’s no doubt that I would have lost touch with a lot of people if it hadn’t been for the convenience of email and Facebook. For that reason I wish it had been around in its current form earlier as it probably would have meant I would have stayed in touch with more friends from school and university. #blogstravaganza

It’s funny how it suddenly took off. From those early Friends Reunited days to Facebook, WhatsApp and more. You can send video messages around the world at the click of a button! As you rightly say though, it shouldn’t be relied upon for socialising or engaging your brain, although I am very grateful for it being an option.

The internet is an amazing thing, but I do agree that it’s ruined certain things i.e. high street shops. My MIL hates phones being out when we’re with her as she saw something that said people use their phones when bored or in company they don’t like. Its great to be able to connect properly without distractions – however since the kids have come we can totally pretend to be taking photos to use them hahahah! #blogstravaganza
also, thanks for sharing this with us at #triumphanttales. I hope to see you back next week!

I confess I sometimes tell my boys that I’m having a conversation with someone when I’m sneaking a look on social media at something! Yes, things have certainly changed. I recall doing a geography project at school about the impact out of town retail parks had on high streets. The results were surprising but I’d be willing to bet online shopping damages almost all brick and mortar stores much more than retail parks ever have done.

The internet and social media is a double edged sword for me – I know i am better without it but struggle to live and function without it!!!

There’s so much that’s accessible on the internet now that isn’t always available offline. I have a real love hate relationship with social media. My brain rests without it but I do like logging in too…!

The internet is a wonderful thing, but at the same time it’s not. I have a 13 year old daughter and it’s great for helping her with homework, but I also worry about who is looking at her profiles online etc, just want to keep her safe.
#TriumphantTales

So true. I’m lucky that my husband is a technical expert and everything is locked down here. Online safety is a minefield though.

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