Every generation of parents face new challenges that were never set before the previous generation. Our generation is faced with a digital age that has become more than just mobile, but tightly woven into our everyday lives.
- As parents, what should we be mindful of?
- Are there clear guidelines?
- How much is too much?
Here are a few things to keep in mind as we parent a generation that is saturated in technology.
Technology Has No Boundaries
Back in the day, saving the Princess and finding the Freeze Ray was done with a home counsel. Now, video games are played on the go. I’ve seen kids following their parents around Walmart, before, with a PSP or DS in their face.
I’m guilty of feeding screens to my kid’s face, too. Countless times I’ve used a smartphone to hush a fussy kid when waiting in line. Even walking through the small town I now live in Italy, I see young kids walking down the street listening to streaming music on their cell phone.
Tech is everywhere.
According to a Nielson report, adult U.S. mobile users sent an average of 357 texts per month in the second quarter of 2008 versus an average of 204 calls. Teens, however, are sending or receiving an average of 3,339 texts a month, an 8% jump from the previous year.
Since technology has no boundaries, we need to create them. That goes for the parents, too.
Turn It Off
This isn’t the answer. Although I disagree with the ol’ hand-eye coordination argument, I do believe there are plenty of games that encourage kids to problem solve and think. Plus, being tech savvy is valuable today, and may be a requirement, tomorrow.
On the other hand:
According to a University of Bristol study, children who spent more than two hours a day at a screen had a 60% higher risk of psychological problems than children who clocked fewer viewing hours.
Just how much time is appropriate? A 2009 Kaiser study reported that children aged 8-18 engage with media 7.5 hours per day, on average. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that kids spend no more than 1-2 hours per day in front of a screen.
So, what’s the answer?
Balance and moderation. This goes for the parents, too.
Preference or Addiction
Don’t confuse these two things. Maybe Johnny isn’t interested in playing football, but he’s interested in computer programming. Remember, addiction is something that you can’t do without.
Indeed, 38% of surveyed college students indicated they couldn’t last 10 minutes before switching on some sort of electronic device.
Of course, adults often experience the same challenge. A new study found that 53% feel upset when denied access, and 40% feel lonely when they’re unable to go online, even for a short period of time. One person interviewed indicated that the 24-hour device-less experience was “like having my hand chopped off.”
Despite the attachment, a striking study of young people revealed that about 38% of those 10-18 years old feel overwhelmed by technology. For 25 -to 34-year-olds, it was slightly less at 34%. Essentially, the younger the age, the more one’s relationship with technology feels strained.
You can’t make black and white rules about these things. It’s the condition of the heart that you have to look at, and yes, that goes for the parents, too.
I believe this boils down to two basic concepts:
Technology isn’t black or white. Look at the heart of the issue and try to avoid arbitrary rules and limitations (or the lack thereof).
- Lead by example
Watch your own behavior to make sure you are modeling a healthy integration of technology in your own day to day life. Your kids may not listen to you, but they will watch you.
What are your thoughts?