The Digital Debate

The balance of technology and your family

Technology is something that has grown in our culture as something to take prevalence over some peoples daily lives. Whether it is that they feel the need to have connection to everything the moment they want it, almost like a power hungry state of mind; or that it shows their worth. Keep in mind though that technology is not just taking over adult lives, but now the younger generation as well. It is something that is more assuredly spawning from their parents or whom ever raises them because clearly, the children do not pay the bills. Some families feel that having access to all of these things for themselves and their children will improve their lives and make them better than the other families.

While on the other hand, some families’ feel that technology in their homes is asinine and will brainwash them and their children to be something that they are not. Is there not some way to find a happy medium so that this generation now, that was born when technology started booming, can lead us into being a great country and not one that gets lost in material items? This article is to inform parents, grandparents, guardians and young adults who may decide to start raising a family or that may already have one of the healthy way in which they should be adapting technology into their home and families in such a way that we will continue to move forward. It will also open eyes into what the Internet really holds in store for those who get on it everyday and do not know what possibly their kids could be doing or going through

The technology is a broad horizon just waiting to looked upon and explored a little bit more. When I was growing up, I always had to ask my mother, “Can I use the computer?” She would give me an hour each day to spend on the computer. I had my own account so when I logged on, only certain things could be viewed or done on the computer. Should you do that for you family? Absolutely! Do not leave room for your family to access things they should not be exploring unless you really want them to. Facebook and other social networks are something that is huge to have now a day. It started and a place where old friends and such could get back together and talk about old times. Now, the teenage age group uses it to talk in a way to make new friends and talk about whatever the hell they want. Personally, I think there is a limit to how much one should spend on social networks and what they use it for. As a parent, soon to be, or hopeful to be, ask yourself; do you really know what they are doing on the Internet?

The teenagers today spend about 2 hours per day on the Internet on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Within those two hours, they can be approached by many opportunity to make new friends, especially those they many not even know. Cyber predators are something that is very real and things that your children might not even know what it is.  John Carosella, Vice President for Blue Coat systems on tools of online communication stated,

“When it happens in real life you know it’s happening, but on the Internet even they might not know it is happening initially.”

If you choose to allow your children to have such things, it would be in your families best interest to talk to them about these things. Informing them of the truths and realities to the “fake world” they are about to enter can help hinder those things from ever happening. Create an open dialogue in your family so that if an issue does arise up, they know that as a child, they can rely on you as their guardian to talk to. Children will be afraid to tell you anything that is going on, especially things like being bullied or strangers talking to them over the sheer fact that they are afraid of the consequences. They don’t want to loose their privileges to their cell phones or the Internet because that is something they feel is helping shape who they are. They also don’t want to continue being bullied but if you allow open conversation to occur in your family, they know that they can trust you.

Another big issue with online socializing is the lack of face to face interaction. Carosella says that,

“Most of our evolution clues to size up others people are stripped out.”

I know that I personally struggling with trying to read peoples emotions and how they are acting over text messaging and Facebook because of the fact there is no emotion in it. When you read it, you are putting your own interpretation of what that person is saying into the reading instead of being able to hear their tone and see their body language. Every aspect of human behavior is taken away from communicating online. Not to say that communicating online is a bad thing, just maybe try and limit how much you and your family does because if you stick to just those ways of talking to either each other or people outside of the family, so much is lost in human communication. What would we be if we didn’t have the ability to read and understand the gift of being a human, emotions? Mindless robotic machines?

Remember back in the day when your parents told you to go outside and not come back in until the dark? That was the time before technology so to throw such a demand on  kids these days is something that I might consider to be nearly impossible. Kids have access to such much today and to take that away from them all together is something that might hinder their ability to feel like you aren’t controlling their lives. Simply just monitor their time. Let them know when it isn’t appropriate to use such things and limit how much they can use them. Spending too much time online might hinder their ability to cognitively develop as much as if they were reading a book. It’s not something that is making stupid or more smart, just changing the way we are processing information. Nicholas Carr, a journalist who is most famous for his article on “Is Google making us stupid?” states, “It is possible to think deeply while surfing the Net, just as it is possbile to think shallowly while reading a book, but that’s not the type of thinking that technology encourages and rewards.” Have your children take time away from the busy lifestyle that American society and the rise of technology has raised us to be like and allow them to enjoy life for the simple things. Take a family vacation and rid of technology, or just go out to see a movie or have dinner and enjoy the face to face interaction (Clemmitt).

Find ways to use technology to enhance their learning so that is does both educate and enhance their skills at the same time. Allowing kids to have fun while they are learning won’t distract them but rather draw their attention more to the learning and grasp more from it. The American Museum of Natural History has a program that allows the age group of 11-14 year olds come learn about the Cretaceous Seas while using things like iPhones and computer to learn from. They invite families to come along too because they know many new parents are a little apprehensive to allowing their youngsters have so much power with technology. The Museums goal is to slow down and look closely at the importance of spending time as a family. Sometimes, technology is something that helps bring the family together. For some families, the best time they have with each other is when they are all gathered around a TV watching their favorite show or the football game that is on. Sometimes it might be difficult to schedule time with your family because you are constantly working and they might be constantly hanging out with friends. So in some cases, it could be used as something to make your family cohesive as well. Find out what works best for you.

Another option is to ask your friends and relatives what they are doing and what they have done is regards to technology in their family. Ask them wether or not it worked and how things are now. Don’t take this very seriously for each family has their differences but take it as a suggestion to try. It isn’t bad to try something and if doesn’t work to try something else.

I hope this was something that was informative to you and that it shed some light on the matter at hand. Technology is not something that is trying to take over our lives, unless you see it as that. Find a healthy balance for you and your family and I’m sure things will go a lot more smoothly than trying to eliminate it all together. To sum it up, some general good tips to follow by are

  • Learn how to use the technology that your children have access to. At the bare minimum, learn how to use the Internet. Familiarize yourself with it so that you know the basics of it so if it comes time where they are approached by some weird stranger, you know how to block that person. Or how to edit their information so those people can’t find them anymore.
  • Talk openly to your kids about the technology they are using so they know what is and isn’t safe for them to do. They will also be more open to talking to you about things they encounter on the Internet instead of keeping it secret. 
  • Don’t be afraid to check your kids technology every now and then. Now don’t take it to the extreme and check their things every day, but periodically it is healthy for a parent to check up on their kids things. I would be different say to read a kids diary because things online can be seen by anyone online as well. Also, you don’t need to go in great detail of reading their things but make sure that they know who they are talking to as well as you do. Make sure it stays as supervision, and not “snooper”vision.
  • Make sure they know that whatever they put on a public domain that it could possibly be brought up in the future. Wether it be a picture, or a nasty post about a past teacher or boss, their future employee could come across something they don’t like and potentially not give them the job. 
  • Make it something interactive for the both of you. Have your children teach you how to use what they are using so they feel like you care enough to know what is going on, but don’t take it to the extreme and become overbearing. 
  • Let them know up front that things they experience online will be much different than the things they experience in real life. That they should not need to expect to fully understand the communication they have with other people because they won’t be having that social interaction up front, but rather behind an invisible wall.

Clemmitt, Marcia. “Cyber Socializing.” CQ Researcher 28 July 2006: 625-48. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

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This entry was posted on November 16, 2012 by .
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