Saturday, April 27, 2013

How does Computer Science fit with No Screens Week

You know how we all have that one Facebook friend, the one that is all granolier than thou about everything? I recently got into one of those discussions about kids and screens.

No screen week is April 29 - May 5 this year.

We are not a big TV family. I spent a good chunk of my childhood in Germany where we had one channel that showed American soap operas, but totally out of order. So TV was never a big thing for me. I just don't like the passive consumption of that much media, especially for small kids.

We currently do not have cable, and the kids watch in short spurts using Netflix. So we usually celebrate no-screens week at our house by turning of Netflix for a week and spending a few more minutes outside with the chickens.

Some things have changes in the last year. My girls are now 10 and 12. They have Kindle Fires and my oldest saved up this fall to buy her own Chromebook this fall. Technically these are all what to do?

After much discussion we have decided to draw a line between consuming and creating with technology. No Goodluck Charlie or Webkins, but CodeAcademy is OK. For us the kids are outside running around plenty, so more fresh air really isn't the point.

But is does make me think about the role of computer science in our relationships with screens. For too many kids in our country their entire relationship with screens is a passive one. Really, that is the magic of computer science. Like any art, it takes you from being a consumer of a product and puts you on stage as a creator.

And really, that is the point. With computer science, the screen becomes a tool for expression. There is a huge power in that.

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