There is a culture clash when it comes to modern child rearing that is being created by technology and specifically the use of computers and the Internet. The current generation of children are the most tech savvy in history: 27% use tablets, 43% use smart phones and 52% use laptops! Los Angeles County alone is spending $30 million on classroom iPads.
However, barely half of today’s parents can agree upon what role technology should play in their children’s lives- especially with the advanced cases of Internet addictions and necessity for “digital detox” for so many young people.
I recently read an article about a set of parents who were deciding on their unborn child’s future name to be – based on what Web domain was available! Seriously. Turns out, “Kylecrandal.com” was taken, so they went with the name Cole instead.
This child, by the age of 3 had learned actionable technology skills- like how to create a password, log on to a laptop and navigate websites. Which is frightening to those parents who are wary of computers and the Internet. It sort of makes sense when you later read that this little boy’s father is a software engineer.
On the flip-side of this same coin, was the story of a single mother who banned texting, social networking and wi-fi in her house after catching her sons “sexting” and bullying kids on Instagram! This brought to light and emphasized very clearly, that how something is being used can either be of benefit or a detriment.
There are increasingly more convincing arguments for the pros rather than the cons of early-age tech fluency, the least of which being pretty basic: keeping up with the competition-, which is a survival skill. There are the fast and ever- growing sectors such as programming, engineering and biotechnology that require exposure early on in life.
So okay, there are cases of cyber bullying, sexual predators and social media (seeing others so happy on Facebook/Instagram) making kids feel depressed, insecure, and even scared. For some children and their families, Facebook and social networking sites have offered unprecedented learning opportunities- helping kids to engage with specialized communities of common interest. Cultivating interests in our children is very important and there are communities online that support niche passions like surfing, music,
photography etc… If you’re the worrying type of parent- and perhaps you have reasonable cause, you can always download “iDetective” an activity monitoring app.
Remember, ‘engaged’ children are happy children. When they are actually physically doing something themselves- in the virtual worlds or on iPads or even laptops- their retention rates skyrocket to 90%.
Studies are also showing that kids’ using the internet to play games is actually of help. Games like “Minecraft” help kids to create whole worlds from scratch, honing their problem solving and critical thinking skills. “ Samorost” is a solving puzzles game that helps children test better on logic exams. And playing the empire building “ Civilization” game piques students interest in history actually increases grades in history class… if you’re still not convinced that game playing is a good thing or if it is beginning to be a problem, you can download the “ Stay Focused” plug-in on Google Chrome, which will allow you to set site time limits.
It’s important to note that if you find that your child has developed an issue or addiction with the internet or computer gaming that wilderness therapy is an extremely successful option for assistance. Pacific Quest takes great care in helping you understand the potentially harmful habits that teens and young adults can develop as a result of modern technology and digital entertainment. Pacific Quest also provides a parent’s guide to video game overuse, which is intended to help you:
- Distinguish between actual video game addiction and simple overuse
- Devise steps and action-plans to prevent video game addiction, overuse, and abuse at home
- Understand some of the advanced treatment options available for teens and young adults addicted to video games
- Take the next step in supporting your son or daughter
As with everything else, our children can learn more by engaging with us in the use of technology than by doing it independently. Being involved and aware of what our children are watching and what games they are playing will foster an even closer bond, on a whole new level. Perhaps parents can keep an open mind about the benefits of technological fluency? Perhaps they can even work WITH their children to make it even more useful.
With any childhood privilege, monitoring is key and essential. I am not condoning unmonitored access to the gadget of every child’s choice- especially if, as noted earlier, they have already been abusing it. If you would like to find out more about internet addictions please contact us.