Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Thoughts on raising children in our advanced technological world.
"I have concluded that the world I grew up in doesn't exist anymore. The world my parents grew up in doesn't exist anymore. Each generation is raising kids in a world that is different from the previous generation's."
I'm sure you have all heard someone of an older generation reference how things were when they were younger. I have done it myself. Maybe it was in reference to a product or a car. Perhaps it was a service or a methodology. It usually starts with something like "when I was a kid..." or "Back in my day..." or they may end with something like "They sure don't make things like they used to" I have had many conversations with people my age about being a kid and growing up. It often brings back feelings of nostalgia. Sometimes these conversations bring back memories of things that had been long forgotten. I hope that when my kids are adults they can reminisce back to when they were kids and have those same thoughts of nostalgia.
As a parent I often think back to "when I was a kid" when I am confronted with a situation that I am not sure how to respond to or manage. I wonder how did my parents handle this? Generally, I consider myself to be a well educated, well-rounded individual. Something that I attribute to my parents. My thought is that if I handle it similarly, then everything should work out right? However, many times when I look back, I don't have an answer. I have concluded that the world I grew up in doesn't exist anymore. You no longer have to watch the TV guide channel or look up what time shows are on in the newspaper. You had to watch commercials or actually wait for a show to air and not just watch it on demand. If you wanted to record something, you hoped that you figured out the VCR. Kids in today's world won't even understand what "Be Kind - Rewind" even means. The world my parents grew up in also doesn't exist anymore. Each generation is raising kids in a world that is different from the previous generation's. When my parents were growing up there video games or cell phones hadn't even been invented yet. As I grew up, cell phones would morph from something only wealthy people had, that was carried in a briefcase, to something everyone has in their pocket.
Most of the situations I don't have a parenting solution for all revolve around technology. Should I let my kids watch You Tube? If so, what types of vides are appropriate? When is is appropriate to give them a cell phone? What cell phone or tablet apps are truly beneficial? While the app itself may be fine, what about the ads that are included in that app? These things didn't apply to me as a kid because they didn't exist yet. You Tube didn't come out until I was out of college. Cell Phones were flip phones and the most you could do on them was make phone calls or type a text message by pressing the number keys multiple times until you got the letter you wanted. Not only were they clunky to type out, they likely cost you $0.10 to send, that is unless you had an unlimited or bulk plan. Apps and games were almost non-existent. If you had one of the cool phones you could play a game on it that was equivalent to centipede. No color screens, they were just a backlit LCD screen.
Technology evolves so quickly it's nearly impossible to keep up. Our world is so deeply connected you probably received some type of notification on your phone in the time you were reading this. You checked it too, didn't you! Yep, I feel ya. Everything we interact with is asking for our attention. Things that I never imagined are now connected. Did you know that you buy a refrigerator that is connected that has a camera inside so when you are at the store you can look inside your refrigerator. Of course you did! You've been to Costco or Best Buy and seen it. Not only does it show you what's inside, you can also order food, listen to music or look at pictures, FROM YOUR REFRIGERATOR. Pretty cool, but also another device that is seeking attention. Another screen.
If you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, you won't get the same answers that kids in my generation would have said. They may say they want to be a You Tuber.
"Just like that I got OWNED by my 7 year old."
We live in an age where you can just ask a smart speaker questions and get reliable answerers. That is going to be normal for kids. Want to hear a funny story about these? Of course you do, and if not you're just gonna scroll faster until it's over!
We have a park that is close enough to walk to. one afternoon around 3:00 or so, my oldest asked if we could go. I wasn't feeling it and knew that we were supposed to get rain, so I told her that we couldn't go because it was going to rain. She says "Alexa, whats the weather like?" Alexa responds with something similar to "Currently it is 62 degrees outside and cloudy. Expect rain tonight." So I said to my daughter, "See its going to rain". Without skipping a beat she replies to me with "No Dad! she said it's going to rain TONIGHT, like when we go to bed. Not now!". Just like that I got OWNED by my 7 year old. I knew it wasn't supposed to rain until later in the evening. Obviously she knew it too. We still didn't end up going to the park. Somehow I managed to still work my way out of that. I think it had been raining earlier that day, or perhaps even the day before, so I told her that the park was likely too wet at the time.
Technology is something we often have to navigate as parents. It's EVERYWHERE and it's not going away. You will likely ask your friends, who have kids of similar age to your own, how they manage it. Maybe you will read books, search the internet or talk with your pediatrician. We do all of these things as parents. It's still hard to navigate these crazy ever-changing waters. At the end of the day, you need to do what you need to. Some days you may be good about discipline and monitoring technology and others maybe not as much. We try to be as consistent as we can, but also know that each day brings its own challenges. Some days you may give them extra screen time because you have a long trip in the car. You may reward them with more time for being good. You might give in just because you are tired of the whining. At the end of the day, if you can manage some consistency and routine with technology, then the kids will know where they stand and you can hopefully avoid a meltdown of epic proportions.