Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why attending assembly talks is compulsory

It's great that there are vendors who give assembly talks on current issues like "cyber-wellness". It's important that the kids learn to protect themselves online, where problems like privacy invasion, identity theft, viral infections and personal harassment are all too easily encountered and can be a real pain-in-the-a** to say the least.

These are 21st century skills we are talking about, dealing with a medium our society is increasingly becoming dependent upon, so by all means provide the necessary instruction to our kids. But for heaven's sake, can we please engage a vendor who actually knows -- and uses -- the Internet as a daily tool for life and not some obnoxious Luddite who sits longer on his moral high horse than at his keyboard, going tsk tsk, and shaking his head at the world passing him by?

His talk and the videos he showed were excruciating to sit through. The first was about moral choices we make in choosing subject matter to blog on. Fine, you know: don't insult others, be sensitive to their feelings... otherwise they will commit suicide and you'll get in trouble with the Principal. O_o The second was about how playing online games turns gamers into violent, obsessive mental patients with bad American accents. Honestly, the acting in these videos would make Bolo Santosi look like an Oscar contender.

Actually, considering the religious source behind this material, I'm not surprised by the quality of the message. The amount of demonizing going on in both the criticism of the medium and in the portrayal of its effects on its consumers was laughably unbelievable.

Herein lies the problem: I agree you have an important topic to broach with the kids, but if you're going to grab their attention, you'll have to respect them as an intelligent audience. Talk to them about real problems of an everyday nature, not try to frighten them with exceptional case studies (trust me, they aren't scared in the least). Show them practical skills for self-defence, not make them swear off the computer forever (trust me, they won't). And don't be a clown when you deliver your material. Humour is good, but only if it is the vehicle for the message and not for the messenger. As for today's speaker, if the medium was the message, we were sadly not impressed.

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