Monday, August 18, 2014

Parenting in the Tech Age

Parenting in the Tech Age

Julia @ Kids Matter

          As a child who grew up in the 80’s, I am always fascinated by the behaviors of kids today. I guess I understand now, why my grandfather would shake his head in disgust at my torn jeans and Pink Floyd T-shirt. I’m starting to understand his way of thinking as the torches are passed to the children of the “Gen Xers” generation.
           Last time I wrote to you about “#LookUp”, so it is only natural that this blog would follow that course. My blog is in response to the tragedy in Wisconsin; two 12 year old girls attempted to murder their “friend” in order to be accepted into a fantasy website.

          I am not going to give you the gory details of this gruesome and morbid tale. What I will talk about though, is how we as people, in one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world, can work to not let something like this happen. To keep children from being engrossed and lost in a website that is FAR above their emotional and mental capabilities.
          I have to wonder if technology, social media, and accessibility are making us lazy. (We don’t have to work hard for anything.) Kids don’t ask what a word means anymore, they simply “Google it”. They use search engines instead of adults as a source of information.

          Do you ever think about what our grandparents went through compared to what we go through? Our grandparents starved during the Great Depression. They faced throat ripping dogs and fire hoses to keep them from a “whites only” drinking fountain. They fought in WWII and brought a tyrant to his knees. What can we take from our grandparents and their struggles? What would our grandparents say about how parenting has changed? Are there ways to plug in their teachings and parenting today? Absolutely!
          First, take control; our grandparents were always in control. You are paying for the internet and electricity, so you make the rules. Kids despise but require rules, so stick to your guns no matter how they protest. Don’t let your kids have a computer in their bedroom. Have a family computer in a neutral zone of your home. Work with computer experts on how to monitor your child’s online activities. Sit near your child while they do homework on the computer.  

          Ask them what they are working on and discuss it. When I was in school, my mother and I would talk every day about my history class. We talked about Watergate, The Gettysburg Address, Vietnam, ‘One if by land, two if by sea’, and where she was on November 22, 1963. By engaging with your children during homework and computer time, you are finding out more about their lives and what struggles they go through with school work, as well as the cruel politics that are school life.
          Stay involved, ask hard questions, expect shocking answers, require honesty at all costs, build trust, keep and respect space, and most importantly, remember they are curious. They are designed to be inquisitive about everything. It’s up to us to talk to them about their curiosities and the consequences. Ask them their opinion of what happened in Wisconsin. What do they think about what happened? What do they think should happen now? Listen. Discuss. Learn. That is life at its zenith and worst. Avoid the horrors those three poor families are facing today.   Do your best to prevent having to one day say, “If only I had known, asked, or listened.”

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