What Don’t Parents Get About The Dangers of Technology?
My wife and I have three amazing kids (two of them are teens) and she thinks I’m pretty amazing as well. But I will be the first dad to raise my hand and admit it: Being a parent in the world of technology is extremely challenging.
Maybe it’s because of its influence and the way it rewires the brain? Even the Silicon Valley elites including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are known for raising tech-free kids. However, for the rest of us who are already plugged in, here are a few key areas to help with understanding exactly what is happening with our kids and technology and how to navigate this interesting, yet ambiguous world.
Here is the thing: When we give our kids unrestricted access to a smart device it is the equivalent of taking a sewage line and connecting it to them. What we’ve learned from psychologists is they do not have the emotional maturity or wisdom yet to wade through the muck and issues. You see, wisdom goes to the future and looks at the outcome of one’s decision and then comes back to the present. Our kids simply do not have the wisdom to handle too much access on their own.
It is imperative that we recognise our kids are growing up in a completely different world via social media than what we, as parents, experienced in our childhoods. Don’t believe me? Just look at any Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat feed.
The paradox is simply this: A kid’s world runs parallel to the “real world” but more times than not it intertwines for your child. Permit me to explain. A commuter train runs on two tracks. The train represents life experience as guided by each track which is separate, unique, and providing direction. The train receives support and direction from both tracks. A kid experiences both support and direction from the world track of current culture and his or her parents’ culture, perspective, values or mindset.
Which one a kid draws upon at any moment depends on a number of factors, including their needs, peer influence, adult authority figures and media icons.
A kid’s world runs parallel to the “real world” but more times than not it intertwines for your child.
As a Parent Technology Advocate and Technology Lifestyle Expert, I have come to learn a concept that every public relations organisation and the networks understand: Media shapes consciousness, and consciousness shapes culture. By that I mean the way we communicate, the outfit we wear, which smart device we purchase, down to our very ideas of identity are shaped by other people who are often total strangers with a financial and cultural agenda of marketing their values to us.
The sad thing, it appears many parents are completely unaware of how much their kids are being influenced and inundated by these concepts.
Parents, let me share a single idea I came up with while researching adolescent behavioural trends that will hopefully be encouraging and help change your perspective on parenting our tech teens:
TECHNOLOGY CHANGES BUT PRINCIPLES STAY THE SAME.
As adults, we all know what it feels like to try finding our place in the middle and high school world. The only difference is the venue for expression has changed, instead of a note being passed, it is a text or DM on Instagram or TikTok. By focusing on the emotion, sharing your personal stories, and practical principles of how you dealt with finding your place, the idea of the experience being through technology becomes less of a concern and more just a vehicle of the story.
Shakespeare famously wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” The Bard never did express who the audience was, but that statement accurately reflects today’s reality. Social media for teens has literally made them all players, actors, standing on a digital stage, performing for each other without a script, and hoping someone will give them applause.
Parents, I encourage you to be both the audience clapping the loudest in the theatre, and also the director giving cues of encouragement to these awkward artists in their big performance called Life. It is during this time where your teen needs wisdom, understanding, guidance, and encouragement that will shape their future.
Check out Caleb’s book Parents, Kid, and Technology: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids in the World of Technology. You can connect with him via Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.