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Hanging on the Telephone

Walberswick photo

This half term I was lucky enough to spend a few days in the village of Highgate on Sea, known locally as Walberswick. It’s a beautiful spot on the Suffolk coast, with a collection of cottages grouped around the village green and its iconic telephone box. There’s something very comforting about this design icon. As a child, my local phone box was so much more than a public telephone – it was my office, and a brilliant place to hang out and make mischief of one kind and another. You’d never be out and about without a stack of 2p pieces – there were plans to be made out of earshot of listening parents.

I’d be interested to know how many of our children at school have even been into a phone box, let alone actually made a call from one. The reality is that communication technology has changed beyond everyone’s imagination. I read recently that the average phone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day, and is online for five and a half hours. I don’t know if this is true, but having seen children in the Family Centre attempting to ‘swipe’ the pictures in a book, I suspect it might be. Our Year 5 topic ‘What Price Progress?’ allows children to evaluate the benefits that this technological revolution has brought. Being ‘in touch’ is great, but just think what the average person could have achieved in the time taken to touch their phone 2,617 times?

The reality is that new forms of communication technology are here to stay and of course bring incredible benefits. After all, without the internet, you wouldn’t now be reading my blog.

I remember being taught at school that fire is a good servant but a bad master. I think the same is true of communication technology. So how do we make sure we are the ones in control? This week at school we will be acknowledging Safer Internet Day, a national event coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. All our children have been given their own Highgate Primary business card, communicating our internet rules. Whereas business cards are normally used to share our personal information, ours remind children to never do this online.

Given the ease with which today’s children can do their homework whilst staying in touch with their world through their phones and laptops, it’s always likely to be a case of playing ‘catch up’ so far as modern communication is concerned. Therefore we all have a responsibility to be aware of the dangers, minimise risks and model the responsible use of communication technology. That said, it’s important that children are allowed to keep some things secret from their parents, after all, we wouldn’t want them hanging out in the village telephone box.