It’s important to pay attention to how the world now works, and in particular in the areas of education and children’s literature; what we call the digital society or information society. Because, after all, this is an abstract entity that is being constructed by us and different people in various sectors; closing your eyes and ignoring all of the possibilities, dangers and benefits of the digital world is quite convenient, but also dangerous.
It means ignoring a whole set of changes that have occurred in the way we think, act and live. Whether we’re aware of it or not, the digital society has changed our lives and will continue to do so, not to mention the lives of our children. Disregarding this phenomenon, which is as fast as the speed of light and as changeable as the weather, and failing to deal with it can only bring negative consequences. So let’s give it our undivided attention, there’s nothing to fear.
Digital technologies are flexible and adapt quickly to societies, perhaps even more quickly than societies adapt to changes, which they are sometimes unable to cope with. This is why there are so many phobias and fears, but if we ignore all of this because we reject it or out of laziness, and we leave it all at the mercy of the market, we’re allowing other people to decide for us, and don’t forget that all the flexibility and immediacy that is given to us by the digital society can lead to the manipulation of information and the alienation of people.
Anonymity, the excessive homogenization of content, the loss of a specific space in which to carry out certain activities -such as reading- and the immediacy with which content and information is accessed all has a direct and brutal impact on society, unable to hold an in-depth discussion and with far less capacity to react to the vast amount of stimulus.
So it’s not a question of turning away from what we fear or embracing it as if it were the panacea for all of our educational problems, but rather to move firmly forwards, without being afraid of making mistakes, and working in this digital society. We need to think about how we want it to be, or at least how we don’t want it to be, selecting tools that are interesting, worthwhile, encouraging the questioning and slow assimilation of information and content, holding coherent discussions based on what we see or read.
If with bombard children with applications, digital information, programs and computer games…relying on fads, false needs or striving to keep up-to-date, we run the risk of numbing them and rendering them incapable of understanding.
Of course, this is equally applicable to materials aimed at both children and adults. In the present we have to determine where we want to go in the future, and where we don’t want to go. If there’s one thing we’re sure about, it’s that we want our children’s stories to be appealing, different, bold, well-crafted, respectful, playful and fun, to stimulate their imagination and not to merely be functional or practical.
Is that too much to ask? We don’t think so.