Here’s an interesting one for you. Robert Hannigan, the former boss of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has said that he thinks the UK lacks sufficient cyber skills and the answer is for kids to play video games. A civil servant said this. The people who regularly claim the pastime is evil etc… Let that sink in for a minute.

The crux of the matter is that the UK is in great need of computer scientists and engineers. Now Hannigan, in response, has warned against parents preventing their children from spending too much time online.

Here’s what he had to say:

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Robert Hannigan, Former Director GCHQ

“Gaming and social media can be as sociable as mooching around the streets with a group of friends. If you are spending a disproportionate amount of your holiday unsuccessfully attempting to separate your children from Wi-Fi or their digital devices, do not despair. Your poor parenting may be helping them and saving the country.”

Minus the whole “saving the country” drama and comedic tone, he’s right. There’s still somewhat of an unnecessary stigma attached to gaming here in the UK. Parents are constantly told to monitor their children to make sure they’re doing something ‘better’ with their time. Is it any wonder then, that the country seems to be falling behind in the digital race?

Hannigan goes on to say:

“Traditional methods will not solve this. There are many excellent computer science and engineering teachers, but not enough. Fortunately, today’s young people have become good at learning through seeing and doing online. They are teaching themselves in new ways.

It follows that the best thing we can do is to focus less on the time they spend on screens at home and more on the nature of the activity.”

It’s that last bit that’s perhaps the most important. Making sure the time spent online is valuable is the right answer. Pulling young people away, regardless of what they’re doing online, is not going to help the issue.

If they want to teach themselves, then let them. You never know, they may well be working on the next Minecraft.

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2 Comments »

  1. I think children have been learning by seeing and doing as long as there have been children, and that usually we adults get in the way. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for following my book blog!

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