Instruction and the Instant Gratification of the Internet

by Debi Christensen (922 views)
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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The Internet caters to the need for instant gratification.

It might seem like you don’t need to learn facts on your own because you can always turn to a search engine bolster your memory. With a few keystrokes and a click or two of your mouse, you have thousands of years of knowledge at your fingertips – in less than a second. Just thinking of the vast universe of wisdom waiting for you just beyond your computer monitor can be an exciting thought.
There’s no bit of information you can’t find out immediately.

Just the Facts

Facts by themselves, however, are useless, much like a bucket of bolts and screws and other metal parts. They are perhaps interesting, but irrelevant until you do something with them. Take those bits and pieces of metal from the bucket and combine them in a useful or intriguing way, and you have applied your knowledge to create something new, like a machine or art.
The same idea applies to gleaning facts from the Internet. It’s what you do with them that matters. True learning – and the ability to remember the learning long term – comes from using higher order thinking skills that require you to apply, evaluate and synthesize the information you gather.
The electronic world of the Internet can be a grand place to learn new information, especially if you need to see how perform a simple task. You can get instruction on anything, but gathering the right information is as important as learning how to apply it; sadly, not everything posted on web pages is accurate, nor is the content safe for children.

When to Step In

That’s why kids need your good judgment and support when they use the Internet.
In today’s world, children especially can be susceptible to the allure of instant gratification from the Internet. Without supervision and monitoring, kids may find themselves far off topic as they continue to click on interesting subjects that lead away from their original research plan.
A strong firewall can protect your children from outsiders who may wish to do them harm, but nothing beats a parent’s guidance when it comes to making sure that your children are safe during electronic research.

Try following these tips for improved safety:

• Use a filter to prevent access to inappropriate websites.
• Discuss with your child how to use the Internet safely.
• Establish rules for use in your home, including time limits and giving out personal information.
• Keep a list of your child’s passwords.
• Have your child go by his or her first name only on Internet sites.
• Frequently look at the monitor – and also look for open tabs to other websites.
The Internet can be a tremendous tool when used appropriately, but it can’t take the place of a live teacher, tutor, mentor or parent.

In Summary

For authentic learning that goes well beyond gathering facts from a variety of electronic resources, engage tutors who will help to nurture your child’s learning, showing him or her how to build on existing knowledge and apply it for life-long learning success.