Magazine article Technology and Children

EDITORIAL: Staying in Touch

Magazine article Technology and Children

EDITORIAL: Staying in Touch

Article excerpt

Communication is something that all humans do. When it works, it can be a rewarding experience. At its worst, it can be frustrating and lead to misunderstanding. Every day we are bombarded by messages and images that cause us to respond in a positive or negative manner. Often it's hard to tell if we're on the same page with others. I often use this example in my class to demonstrate the need for clear communication. While standing in front of the class, I say the word "pie." I repeat that word a few seconds later. Immediately, I ask students to tell me the first thing that comes to mind. The responses are somewhat astounding. For example, pizza is at the top of the list, and then there are others-blueberry, apple, 3-14, a graph, and the symbol ω. How can there be so many responses to one word, and how can so many people think of so many meanings for the one word? The context of the word and image are very important. In this case, there was simply a question about what came to mind at the sound of the word pie. Consider that an engineer from another country is talking about using "pi" to solve a problem, and the rest of us are thinking about mom's coconut custard. Imagine that everyone interpreting the word the same way determined life and death. Now there's communication! I often wonder if the many conflicts in the world are a result of poor communication among cultures and governments. Was there one buzzword that created the tensions that we now experience across the globe? Maybe we should be more responsible for choosing our words wisely and selecting images that aren't so over the top.

The speed at which communication can take place is astounding, too. For example, the communication evolution can be traced back to 1492, with Columbus' discovery of the New World. It took six months before Queen Isabella received one message that the discovery had been made. In 1865, it took over a month for the British Government to learn that Lincoln had been assassinated. In 1969, "The Eagle has landed," the most distant message ever sent by humans, took 1.3 seconds; it originated from the surface of the moon. Today, we can contact people everywhere on the planet. The ease of communication has made more information available to more people than at any time in the history of humanity.

The problem with having copious amounts of information available at your fingertips is trying to determine what's important and what is insignificant. …

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