Is there such a thing as too much information?

Mr Kyle Thompson – Principal

As I sit and begin to write this week I cannot stop thinking about the amount of information we now process daily. Equally as important in my mind is how graphic, complete or accurate this information appears in relation to yesteryear.

We now have access to more information than ever. We see more than ever. We experience, almost firsthand and certainly in real time, things we may never have seen before. Immediately I see the positives and negatives to this. Our boys and girls can ‘virtually’ visit the Louvre in Paris, and hear instantly almost any song ever written. No longer do we have to find our way through actual encyclopaedias to paraphrase outdated information nor are we at the ready, standing by our cassette recorder waiting for the song we want to record, play over the radio. Information hasn’t decreased in ‘value’, it is just more accessible. We now have a school with students who have never known a world without wifi. And if all this information is used well, if used judiciously, this can only be a good thing, right?

Then I see the news. News streams, online, on TV, on my tablet, my phone, everywhere. Our boys and girls are now taken into war zones, terror attacks and other catastrophic events. And, they are taken there in a depth never before possible. And then it is shown again. And again. And again. Then the next news item attempts to outdo the last. And on it goes.

Our boys and girls deserve to learn and develop an understanding of the world. In fact I believe we are obliged to ensure we do this as parents and as teachers. Our kids need to understand the world in which they will live. The world they will change. However, the level of understanding they are capable of processing is dependent on many things. Their age, their maturity, their beliefs and culture, their resilience, their background, and the list goes on. So perhaps the amount of information they access or have access to needs careful consideration

Studies show one in four young people are now likey to experience anxiety or depression or engage in behaviours that are termed ‘risky’. I wonder how much is due to, not only the overload of information, but also because of the desensitising and access to all we now see and hear. Not to mention the volume and relentless nature of information coming our way.

As educators, as parents, as consumers and providers of information, perhaps it is time to selectively consider that ‘less is more’. I wonder what our kids will watch, see and hear in the next 24 hours, the next week, or over the next weekend or holiday period. It would be interesting to look at this through a lens that considers filtering the information our kids see and hear.

Maybe, just maybe, our holidays, our weekends our ‘after hours’ is an opportunity to trial the ‘less is more’ principle. After all, that’s what holidays and weekends are for! So I undertake, where possible, to see more closely what my kids see. To evaluate what it is they are processing and, most importantly, initiate some discussions with them about their view on the world in which they live and the way in which information they receive is processed by them.

In a world where information flows, this time we spend with our children provides an opportunity for us to speak to them and perhaps be the filter for them as well. And, perhaps even more exciting is the chance for me to become an information source more readily available to those close to me.