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My Digital Footprint

John Seely Brown

The web has just begun to have an impact on our lives. As fascinated as we are with it today, we’re still seeing it in its early forms… My belief is that not only will the web be as fundamental to society as electrification but that it will be subject to many of the same diffusion and absorption dynamics as that earlier medium.

The Linking for Learning Blog

Entries in The Conversation (2)


Screen time for children - finding balance

Managing the screentime of children and adolescents in a society saturated with digital devices is a concern for parents and carers endeavouring to do the right thing by their children.  The official guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics which recommend 2 hours per day were last revised in 2001, well before smart mobile devices.  The guidelines are under review, however, in the meantime they are being used to make judgements that don't fit with the reality.

Earlier this year, The Conversation reported on research reflecting the inadequacy of these screen time guidelines:

A recent online poll of 18,000 children by ABC children’s program Behind the News found that 56% of respondents exceed that two-hour daily limit.

survey of 2,620 Australian children aged eight to 16 years had similar results. The study showed that 45% of eight-year-olds to 80% of 16-year-olds exceed the recommended less than two hours per day limit.

Australian recommendations from the eSafety Commissioner use the Department of Health physical health and sedentary behaviour guidelines but the recommendation for 5-17 year olds of less than 2 hours per day is still unrealistic.

Options for parents therefore fall back on personal judgements.  Common Sense Media, (US based) recommends that parents make those judgements by identifying four main categories of screen time:

  • Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
  • Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
  • Communication: video-chatting and using social media
  • ​Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music

The Australian Office of Children's eSafety Commissioner offers Managing Online Time which includes an excellent series of videos from child psychologists who speak directly to specific parental concerns.  For an Australian audience in particular, they are recommended.

Finally, this infographic makes a distinction between educational and recreational screen time and provides an overview for families to manage screen time quality and quantity for young people.  Family involvement and sharing of responsibility is the most recommended approach and, in the meantime, we look forward to an update of the guidelines that are used as benchmarks that influence media reporting of the issue.



Jobs of the Future - an Australian perspective

What is the research and ideas on the future of jobs from an Australian perspective?  We hear much about the US job market but although there are many similarities, there are also many differences impacting on the Australian situation which require consideration such as:

  • Population - 23million v 213million
  • Geographic location - semi isolation from northern hemisphere
  • Climate - on the whole temperate with extremes of heat rather than cold
  • Higher education system - more accessessible (although change is in the air)
  • Population distribution - concentrated around coastal cities, principally in the south east
  • Age - Australia is a very young country with general openness to new ideas
  • Natural resources - have been financially advantageous but are not infinite.

It's interesting therefore, to read the article Job survival in the age of robots and intelligent machines by David Tuffley on The Conversation in which he examines where we stand and the Australian Government's approach to future jobs.  The article is broken down into headings:

  • Could a robot do your job?
  • Thinking skills for future workers
  • Mastering the new media
  • Managing the information, and 
  • Virtual environments. 

From an educator's point of view, I'm particularly interested in the link through to futurist Thomas Frey's article 55 jobs of the future where he writes:

over the coming years will see a number of industries dismantled requiring a skilled workforce of talented people who can perform this task in the least disruptive way. Most of these industries have been built around aging facilities and infrastructure that will become unnecessary and unsustainable in the future.  


Education System Dismantlers - details here and here and here.

Whether you agree with it or not, the importance for me lies in the growth of awareness, of understanding the world in which we are living and performing a role in preparing young people for their possible futures.  I agree with David Tiffley and am reflecting on the thoughts raised to my role as a teacher librarian, as he concludes:

To position yourself favourably for the jobs of the future, become someone who can look at problems in unorthodox ways, seeing different angles and finding workable solutions.

Be a multi-disciplinary, insatiably curious person who knows how to use the tools to model ideas and create prototypes.

Possessed of an open mind and few fixed ideas about how things should be done, you nonetheless have a strong conscience and can operate outside of your comfort zone to achieve win-win outcomes. You are known for your integrity and resilience.

As always, the conversation published via comments is always worth noting.