Focus on smartphone generation
Lively panel discussion at the start of the Education Days Munich 2020
From ANDREAS RITTER
Generation Smartphone: When the mobile phone becomes the best friend” was the title of the panel discussion on Thursday, 21 November, in the Alte Rotation at the Pressehaus Münchner Merkur/ tz.
It was the kick-off event for the Education Days Munich, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 25 and 26 January 2020, at the Pressehaus.
Does the use of digital media among young people lead to a decline in gross and fine motor skills, to poor concentration and lack of empathy? Or is the media competence gained as a result synonymous with future competence? How much smartphone is good for young people? The opinions of the experts on the podium differed widely on these questions. Visitors to the Pressehaus, for example, saw an extremely lively round of both the opening event of the Education Days Munich 2020
On the podium discussed philosophy professor Matthias Rath, state school spokesperson Joshua Grasmüller, psychiatrist Dr. Susanne Pechler, media educator Sebastian Ring and the entrepreneur Philipp Depiereux, who raises his children completely free of smartphones and tablets. The round was moderated by Angelika Beranek, professor with a focus on media education
at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich.
Raising children without a smartphone
“As parents, we must be courageous to decide against the mainstream,” said Philipp Depiereux. As founder and managing director of etventure, a consulting firm for digital transformation for companies, he is a consistent professional driver of digital change, but in his private life he is the exact opposite: Because his children are growing up without “digital devices” – and they felt comfortable with them, Depiereux emphasized at the kick-off event.
“Children up to the age of ten or eleven should not use smartphones,” he said, referring to findings by brain researchers, teachers and media scientists. Of course, this is not always easy, for example when it comes to speaking out against class chatting at school. He also has clear ideas about what to do with other parents when his children meet with their offspring.
Leisure time must be spent “digitally free”. “If that doesn’t work, I’ll talk to the other parents about it,” Depiereux said. At the age of 15, according to the plan, his daughter will get her own smartphone. However, he wants to prepare her well for this, to accompany her on her way to the Internet and when dealing with digital media. For example, she should learn how to use the Internet properly for research and how to recognize fake news. By the way, Depiereux was not the only one in the hall at the kick-off event to educate his children “digital-free”. Parents in the audience shared his position, as it turned out in the subsequent round of questions.
Digitisation is not an option, but a fact
Every new medium is first of all critically examined and often measured by its negative aspects, said Professor Dr. Dr. Matthias Rath, philosopher, media scientist, pedagogue and professor of philosophy at the Ludwigsburg University of Education. This has been the case time and again throughout history. As late as the 18th century, books were said to be harmful, especially to the female sex, he said, citing an example from history that is completely incomprehensible from today’s perspective.
According to the professor and father of five children, it is important to provide children with guidelines and support. “Digitalization is no longer an option, but a fact,” said Rath. “Digital media is a part of the world.” That is why you have to confront your children with it “just as with fir cones, a book or the possibility of doing a somersault”. In his opinion, it would not make sense to explain to children as late as at the age of 18 that there is road traffic outside. Rather, it is necessary to prepare them in time.
At the same time, parents must make their children strong in dealing with the new digital possibilities and their effects. “Media are not to blame for what is written in chats”, says the professor, but young people should be confident enough to leave such chats in case of doubt. However, Rath warned during the kick-off event not to leave parents alone with digital education. “This is also where educational institutions come in.”
As medical director of the media outpatient clinic at the kbo-Isar-Amper-Clinic in Munich, she is familiar with numerous problem cases, reported Dr. Susanne Pechler, who is, among other things, the contact person for media addicts there. However, she emphasized: “Media per se is not a disease. They are not solely to blame, the problem is often much more complex and there is another cause behind a questionable media consumption. In affected families they often experience great uncertainty. A typical question is, for example: How many minutes of screen time should I allow my child? “There is no right answer to this question that applies to everyone,” says Pechler.
Families should first review their attitude towards digital media: Does the television run during dinner, is the smartphone always handy and do the children have other leisure interests than digital media? Time and again, they experience a “strange reward system” in families, in which children would be granted ten minutes more screen time, for example, if they did something well.
In general, Pechler advises a more cautious approach to the term addiction, because not every use of the media means a pathological consumption. However, if serious problems arise,” says the psychiatrist, “parents should not be afraid to use counselling and support services.“
Advice to parents: also check your own media use
For Sebastian Ring, head of the Media Centre Munich of the JFF – Institute for Media Education, it is important to differentiate what children and young people do with their smartphones. “The smartphone is a multimedia jack-of-all-trades,” he said. Young people use it as a photo and video camera, game console and means of communication, but for children, he said, only games are interesting in the first instance.
In the case of young people, a smartphone can be quite useful, but it is less recommendable to keep the little ones quiet on the digital path, says Ring. In no case should the role of parents in dealing with digital media be underestimated, he stressed at the launch event. After all, parents are always role models. For example, he said, children first see how they handle smartphones and tablets and also what possibilities the devices offer.
Basically, the following applies: “The more present the smartphone is in the family, the more interesting it becomes for the little ones, too”. Parents should therefore critically examine media use, not only of their children but also of themselves. By the way, according to Ring, even “daddling” can be okay. “Not everything has to make sense.”
Giving children a sense of responsibility at an early age
Joshua Grasmüller, state spokesperson for high schools in Bavaria, does not see the loss of analog skills through smartphones and tablets in young people, but at the same time limits them: “However, my generation did not yet have a tablet in the stroller. He thought it was important to give the youngsters analogue skills first and only then switch to digital media. “In elementary school, children should continue to be allowed to read books and not put a tablet in the hands of every first-grader straight away,” said Grasmüller at the kick-off event. However, he said that one cannot start early enough to teach children a sense of responsibility.
On the question of a separate school subject on the use of digital media, there was widespread agreement in the panel at the opening event: media education, like social competence, is one of the cross-cutting areas. They must be taught by every teacher in every subject. However, this also requires that the initial and further training of teachers be geared accordingly.
Dr. Susanne Pechler
Dr. Susanne Pechler, Ärztliche Leitung der Medienambulanz am kbo-Isar-Amper-Klinikum in München
Die Medienambulanz am kbo Isar-Amper-Klinikum fungiert als Anlaufstelle, wenn die virtuelle Welt die Realität zunehmend verdrängt.
Mit verschiedenen Therapieansätzen hilft die Medienambulanz medienabhängigen Menschen, wieder eine Balance zwischen Mediennutzung, Alltagsbewältigung und zwischenmenschlichen Beziehungen zu finden.
Beruflich konsequenter Treiber von digitalem Wandel, privat das exakte Gegenteil: seine Kinder wachsen ohne jegliche digital devices auf. Das älteste Kind zudem gerade in einem Alter, wo Smartphone & Co. den Alltag bestimmen.
Spannend zu hören, wie er beide Welten verbindet bzw. wie es ihm gelingt, sie strikt zu trennen.
Sebastian Ring, Leiter des Medienzentrums München des JFF – Institut für Medienpädagogik
Sprecher des Netzwerks der Medienzentren im deutschsprachigen Raum FRAME, Sprecher der Landesgruppe der GMK – Gesellschaft für Medienpädagogik und Kommunikationskultur
Zu seinen Arbeitsschwerpunkten zählen die Themenbereiche Heranwachsen und digitale Medien (insbesondere Internet und Computerspiele), Medienethik, Partizipation und Vernetzung.
Landesschülersprecher für Gymnasien in Bayern
Vertreter der Generation Smartphone, der das Smartphone zwar häufig nutzt, aber auch froh ist, das Gerät mal für ein paar Stunden zur Seite legen zu können, um die Ruhe zu genießen.
Für ihn ist das Smartphone zwar ständiger Begleiter im Alltag, doch deshalb noch lange nicht der beste Freund.
Prof. Dr. Dr. Matthias Rath
Prof. Dr. Dr. Matthias Rath ist Philosoph, Medienwissenschaftler, Pädagoge und Professor für Philosophie an der Pädagogischen Hochschule Ludwigsburg.
Dort leitet er u.a. die Forschungsstelle Jugend – Medien – Bildung, in der die Zusammenhänge zwischen Mediennutzung und Bildungsprozessen erforscht werden.
Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte sind u.a. Medienethik, empirische Medien- und Medienbildungsforschung. In mehreren Studien hat Professor Rath die Chancen und Risiken der Nutzung digitaler Medien für Kinder und Jugendliche und die Bedingungen einer gelingenden Medienerziehung empirisch und ethisch untersucht.
Prof. Dr. Angelika Beranek
Dort leitet Sie u.a. das media I culture I lab. Frau Professor Beranek war mehr als zehn Jahre in der medienpädagogischen Jugendarbeit tätig und lehrte an der Pädagogischen Hochschule Schaffhausen. Ihre Forschungsbereiche sind Einflüsse der Mediatisierung auf die Theoriebildung der Sozialen Arbeit, Medienerziehung, ethische Aspekte algorithmischer Entscheidungsprozesse und vieles mehr.