A conference on “digital literacy” in Ames this fall will focus on how educators and parents can provide the best “media diet” for kids.
The Mayo Clinic and Iowa State University are among the cosponsors. Speakers include experts from China and Singapore as well as the United States.
“The conference brings together some of world’s brightest minds and innovators…They see this as a global event,” says Peter Komendowski, a consultant from Waterloo who describes himself as a “futurist.”
He is also president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free Iowa.
“Drug use alone, as terribly dangerous as it can be, is no longer the only life-threatening risk our children face,” Komendowski says. “We’ve identified media — the entire digital environment — accessed by our children without supervision, as one of the most of powerful contributors to high-risk behavior in children.”
Experts suggest kids should spend no more than two-hours per day using a digital device, but Iowa State University researchers estimate the average Iowa child spends about half the hours they’re awake in the “digital world” playing games, watching videos and interacting on social media sites like SnapChat or Facebook. Much if not all of that time is unsupervised and Komendowski says without the proper “critical thinking skills,” children and teens are at risk.
“As evidence of that potential for harm, we see sexting, cyber-bullying, video game addiction, body-image issues, lower grades, health problems, even suicide,” Komendowski says. “With children spending 50+ hours a week in the digital world, it’s important we teach them how to experience that world safely.”
The day-long event will be held on Friday, November 10, at the Gateway Conference Center in Ames. Conference registration and a list of speakers are here.