Children of the Web
Luciano Verdone. I figli della rete. Paoline, 2011, 40
Rich with food for thought, I figli della rete is a light and
synthetic work that manages to outline the main arguments of the
contemporary educational debate.
From their early childhood, youth and children today are immersed in
environments that are saturated with new and old media capable of
powerfully driving cultural and behavioral models. They face life’s
challenges amidst a desert land barren of values and witnesses. Too often,
this reality is neglected by numb and uncommitted adults who are incapable
of posing meaningful viewpoints that can be looked to with trust. It is
possible to break out of this nihilism, out of this “dark night of values”,
if education- the cultural invalid of this age- becomes an indispensible
priority, a “cultural challenge and a sign of our times”, as Cardinal
Bagnasco recently defined it.
The author, a doctor of psychology and philosophy, thoroughly understands
the new generations and the topics of the so-called “educational
emergency”. The reader is introduced to these topics line by line, thus
having the opportunity to grasp their prominent elements. The call for
formative responsibility committed to recover that “courage to educate” is
put to the test by the spread of ethical relativism and an individualistic
approach. This call is above all directed at the family, womb of life and
“school of humanity”, founded on matrimony between a man and a woman. It
elicits the primary and original tasks of parenting as a collegiate
educational exercise that commits fathers and mothers to an authoritative,
distinct and yet complementary, action. It is an action that doesn’t fear
pain nor sacrifice, and requires the collaboration of other educational
agencies, beginning with the schools, under the banner of a vital alliance
between the family and society.
However, an important position of the educational game is played on the
level of the issues involving the use of new and old media. Closed in the
privacy of their bedrooms, our children are growing in a tight relationship
with technology: from the TV to the computer, the screens are multiplying
and are offered for individual use, about which adults often know little to
nothing. Just as it is not bad in itself to entertain oneself with the
television, it is not altogether bad to trust the waves of the digital
ocean to carry ultra-modern cognitive and relational messages in bottles,
or to let the horseback of bit nourish them with ubiquitous immediacy.
However as the author points out, in its overlap with the world of
face-to-face relationships rich with opportunities, the media environment
presents pitfalls that must be taken into account first of all by parents.
This ought to trigger a “pedagogy of the internal and external defenses”
based on support and supervision. Thus more education, and less training,
is necessary for a disciplined and conscious growth that knows how to
combine liberty and responsibility. It is the difficult yet fascinating
challenge that is always open to the fullness of life.