What is the relationship between Turkle and Wesch? Do you see them as allies, or opponents in this discussion of new media and technology?
Both Turkle and Wesch introduced valuable points regarding the impact of technology on humans and relationships. They have some similarities but for the most part seem to have opposing ideas. Turkle and Wesch both agree that technology is distracting humans. Turkle views the distractions as personal interactions with others while Wesch explains the distraction as occurring more in the classroom.
In Turkle’s article, she is argues that technology is interfering with human communication. Due to the improvements in technology and the devices that people do not leave home without, we have become a society that accepts the idea of being “alone together.” Turkle explains that people are comfortable being in their own little bubble because they can use devices (cell phone, iPad, etc) to connect with others. As a result, people can control their interactions with others and decide if they want to be very social by connecting online or through text, or seclude themselves. The problem with this is that people don’t fully get to know one another because they minimize their communication when texting/using social media, and don’t get to hear the tone or nuances in a person’s voice. Without face to face conversations, communication is compromised and can be misinterpreted. In addition to this downfall, technological people turn to digital devices when they want to be heard. With 3,000 friends someone is bound to respond to a status/comment. Turkle continued to argue that people are drawn to technology because it resembles a type of companionship that allows people to be heard, direct attention where they want it, and minimize loneliness.
Turkle encourages adults to teach kids how to separate themselves from technology. She urges adults to inform kids on how to be alone so they don’t feel lonely. Kids and adults have a tendency to automatically reach for a device when they are alone because they feel the need to connect. There’s something important about people knowing how to entertain themselves outside of their digital devices. Turkle also suggests that families establish rules such as “device free zones” in the car or dining room so kids can learn the importance of conversation. Both kids and adults need to consider the technology that the use and find ways to minimize digital conversations by having more personal face to face interactions.
Unlike Turkle, Wesch’s TED talk focuses on preparing youth for the digital world that is ahead. He sees digital devices as disruptions in the classroom because the devices allow easy connection, quick information, and the ability to share, network, or publish. Wesch explains how these skills are accessible to most youth however it does not mean that they are knowledge-able, meaning they know how to analyze, criticize, and create information. Wesch also explains how the students he teaches are often seeking meaning for their life, however this is interrupted by the media that surrounds them.
Wesch is in favor of teaching students the technological/digital skills that they will need. Students need to be taught how to think critically so they can develop their own ideas and not take on what they see on TV, online, or in advertisements. They also need to be taught how to embrace real world problems, gather research, discuss with others, and use relevant tools to share their knowledge. Digital tools and devices are wonderful tools that can enhance learning if used properly. To support this idea Wesch explained the “new media world” and provided examples or creativity that are occurring through media. People are creating virtual choirs, alert websites, and videos that are spreading positive messages throughout the world. Media and technology are good tools, as long as they are used appropriately and balanced with daily interactions.
Overall, I can relate to both Turkle and Wesch. I was happy to read Turkle’s article because I at times find myself reaching for my phone rather than embracing moments of solitude. It’s a habit that most of us need to break and I was thankful for the information that Turkle provided. I also enjoyed Wesch’s TED talk because I agree with him that technology is a skill that needs to be taught to our students and children. If we teach youth how to use digital devices and media to think critically, find reliable information, analyze information, and form their own opinions, then we are giving them skills that will enable them to be knowledge-able in the world that is ahead.