Whether it’s in the car, at school, at home, or at the mall, kids are always connected. But is that a bad thing? According to Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital, the young generation is also the smartest generation.
I think that Don makes a great point with this video. I think it’s important to take a balcony stance and realize that our society, as it stands right now, is a blend of an older generation whose youth was exposed by technologies that extended as far as cable TV and floppy disks, and then a younger generation who was around when cell phones started fitting in the palm of your hand and music was downloaded online instead of bought in a store. But as Don points out, society is going to move forward with technology, not back, and the older generation needs to adapt, not abstain.
Another important thing to realize is that what we see going on right now with technology, is merely the beginning of a lifestyle for future generations. It’s easy to shun technology or focus on the negative impact it has on our children’s social skills, but sometimes we, as parents and grandparents, need to step back and understand that this digital divide between old and young generations is equivalent to any inevitable cultural divide that has taken place between old and young generations in the past.
On the other hand, and I’ve said it before, moderation is key. No matter the technology—be it text messaging, social networking, or video games—parents need to draw a line for their kids. Setting a boundary is something that the child probably won’t do on their own, video games are fun and YouTube has the ability to entertain you all day if you let it, so it’s important that we tell our children when to give it a rest for a few hours and enjoy something as simple as dinner and a movie with the family.
One of the major splinters that stands out as a product of too much connectivity is the face-to-face social skills deprivation. Because the younger generation was there when technologies like text messages and emails came to fruition, it’s what they’re used to and it’s what they’re good at. But as parents we know that that type of communication only goes so far, and when this generation is introduced to the world where lunch meetings and face-to-face interaction are still second-nature and necessary, they might have a hard time. With that said, we need to teach our kids to balance these communication skills.
We also need to teach them how to appreciate the world around them. Nowadays if you take your teens and tweens to a national park or a foreign country they’ll most likely text and update their status the entire trip. Step in and say: “OK, listen, you’re in a fortunate position to learn a thing or two, so give the phone/laptop a rest, (just for a while) soak in your surroundings and enjoy the scenery”. Though this task may not be easy at first, it’s extremely important.
The growing stereotype that’s currently defining our youth is that their addiction and dependency on technology is making them numb to the world around them. I’m sure that this stereotype doesn’t apply to every child, teen, or young adult, or even a large percentage of them, nevertheless, it’s a reflection of us, the parents, and the way we raise our children.
So remember, moderation is key. Technology is great, and it’s only going to get better, but while it does, we can’t forget the rest of the world. Then again, your kids will never know what the rest of the world has to offer unless you teach them.