2020 will be remembered as humanity’s toughest year in the 21st century, a period of havoc, that swept through all aspects of life from the economy and health to education.
Even now, nations are searching for alternative ways of handling the cost of researching the COVID-19 disease and potential vaccines at the national level. The highly contagious virus has also affected the traditional ways of teaching and learning as students remain stuck at home.
As a result, online teaching methods have been taken into consideration to keep youngsters healthy. According to some scientists, this virus will be here for the long term, at least until a vaccine can be found, which could very well take a couple of years.
In the meantime, people should become better prepared in any way possible, especially since fall and winter are approaching, and with them, the flu season. The oncoming flu season in winter, online education and the use of the internet are all related to the betterment of our children in the middle of this first phase of COVID-19.
Families are rightfully afraid of taking their children outside due to the pandemic, which means that children are mostly occupied with the internet at home.
Last week, I made spontaneous visits to a few families in two cities and discovered something that profoundly disturbed me. I discovered that the games they play and the videos they watch have an impact on the personalities of our kids. Regrettably, there are some children who begin repeating and imitating whatever they hear or see in those games and videos.
I stayed with a relative who is a parent of two children. One is 1.5 years-old while the other is 9. They've been out of the school since the COVID-19 measures and now the schools are closed for the summer holiday. I stayed three days with my relative and noticed there is little to no attention paid to what the children do or hear on any online platforms.
We are in a war against the COVID-19 pandemic and Turkey is trying its best on a national level. However, Turkey’s war against the virus has been breached through the online world, which could manipulate our young people and bring destruction to our future. It is of note that technology has advantages and a level of beauty, as well. However, at the same time, access to technology should be restricted when it comes down to children of a certain age.
One of my relative’s children would say and make certain gestures without realizing the real meaning of these expressions and words. Out of curiosity, I asked him if he was aware of what his sayings and actions meant. He responded by saying "why, what and f---" before showing me the middle finger. I do not want to expose the name of the programs he was watching. I continued to observe him closely. I wanted to know if he understood the meaning of what he was repeating – the bad words. He was not aware. I also sat with him and watched some videos where the presenters or commentators would react to those videos. These types of videos are very common now and many people have come up with their own styles.
I have even come across videos where a guy keeps killing his boss in different ways. Sometimes, the presenter repeatedly says, "Do not try those things at home." However, the children watching these videos are recording everything in their subconscious. I am certain there are many content creators who just aim to earn money or gain subscribers through these types of videos.
If there could be regulations about false news on the internet, then it is absolutely necessary to include hindering these types of violent videos that have the potential to create assailant, aggressive or insensitive children. These videos could also serve to distance youth from our customs and traditions.
Whatever we do now will affect our future for the next few decades. We should not let our future be ruined and eroded by this useless content.
Our goals and efforts are to have a better future for all. We may not have the power and capability to protect children around the world but we can stand together to protect our own children in our own nation. In this regard, we can be a remarkable example for other nations.
System of coexistence
I kindly ask our beloved leaders to take some initiative on this matter. The future of education deeply depends on the collaboration between teachers and families, and the pandemic has given us another opportunity where families spend more time with their children.
I think COVID-19 will keep us alert during the new semester. There will of course be necessary precautions put in place, but I do not think we will be able to open our houses of knowledge, such as schools, for the next semester while the Turkish education and health ministers examine the number of new cases for the new semester.
Therefore, we should focus on creating more cooperative ways from now onward in the event that new cases remain high. Online classes have been implemented, but I do not think that children should learn about all subjects in front of a camera.
Family members should be instructed to join or carry out some activities with their kids while other significant subjects are implemented through online classes. For example, family members can participate in the first class of the day by engaging in physical exercise together. Some lessons such as religion, culture, ethics, visual arts, music and physical education may be taught by family members with the teachers of those subjects guiding relatives by providing additional sources of information such as books and articles.
This list of lessons may change in line with the guidance of the Ministry of National Education. However, the situation of children whose family members work should also be taken into consideration. This may provide another option to the list of possibilities already presented by educational officials last month.
* Ph.D. candidate in international relations at the University of Malaya, Malaysia
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