[Editor’s Note: This story is Part 2 of our month-long series on “What it means to teach Gen Z.” Click here to read Part 1 on Gen Z and parents. Check back every Monday in April to read the next installment!]
Librarians and media specialists are in a unique position within schools, since they are very often the person responsible for introducing students to new technologies, and are also on the front lines when it comes to connecting students to meaningful sources for research.
Today’s students have never known a world without the smartphone or tablet, and many of them have been using these devices independently since infancy. The answers to their questions have never been more than a click of a button away. In this brave new world of technological innovation and free-flowing information, librarians are now tasked with teaching these digital natives how to navigate these waters with discernment, while still taking full advantage of the opportunities these tools afford them.
Kids are curious, and they soak up new information like a sponge. Gen Z has grown up with access to more technology than any previous generation, so they have a hard time waiting for information because they can so easily find it online. Even the youngest learners know that you can find out the answer to a question right now on the internet.
With increased access to technology comes unique challenges such as increased access to inappropriate content and fake news.
As an elementary school, we are very concerned about inappropriate content. Our district’s web filters do a great job of making sure students don’t have access to unsafe content at school, and we also teach safe searching so that even when students are outside of school they can find appropriate content.
Even before “fake news” became a buzzword, we taught our students about vetted content. At school, they have access to trustworthy databases and we teach them that these databases contain researched information that has been proven to be accurate, as opposed to what they might find with an open-ended internet search.