Today childhood and technology go hand-in-hand: with many parents feeling like tablets and smartphones have become extensions of their children, could I go so far as to say our kids sometimes seem like cyborgs – plugged in and absorbing data at an impossible rates of speed.
The younger generations have grown up amid computers, the world wide web, and digital media. Our children have not experienced the liberating experience of flip cell phones or dial-up Internet; they have only known a world where high speed information and communication is a given.
This can be difficult at times. There are days where you feel like you’re trapped in a foreign land as you try to tap your way through touchscreens of “likes”, disappearing messages and Snaps. Our lack of app understanding may frustrate our children, because apparently even our choice of browser is “so old school”. Parents can feel lost and confused at times, desperately grasping for ways to communicate and relate to their children on their level.
It’s time we took a broader look into society’s love of the digital world and what it has brought to the table of parenting. Many people believe that high school can make or break a child, so it is even more vital to be aware of the digital and real worlds our adolescents straddle.
Common sense can go a long way when raising teenagers, but navigating unknown territories can be intimidating for the “older” generation.
Our children are already comfortable living in two realities at the same time:two realities: digital and face-to-face. So parents are going to have to learn to navigate both worlds if we want to keep up.
Finding Balance: Tips For Raising Teens In A Digital World
Parents may lack the newest skills or digital gadgets, but we aren’t completely in the dark. Although, we may need to step up our game and conquer the technology gap before it plunges a permanent wedge between the generations.
Social media and technology are not necessarily something to fear. As we raise digital natives, the new advancements can bring us closer together and work in our favor.
Keep in mind:
- Technology is changing the way we relate to one another, but face-to-face conversation is still important in the present. Future generations may value it less, but in the meantime, for our children to be successful in communicating with older generations, they must be able to communicate both online and in-person.
- Technology increases opportunity for distraction. From dropping conversations, procrastinating important work, or losing the ability to self-reflect, technology represents an ever-present temptation to leave difficult places. Those who will succeed in the future will be the ones who learn to overcome this temptation.
- Technology can be used for consumption or creation. We can play video games… or we can create them. We can browse Facebook… or we can create places and communities that serve a purpose. Help your children know the difference.
- You can’t believe everything you see on the Internet. It concern not only the question of how reliable Wikipedia or news feed is but the profiles we create representing ourselves online. We post our most glorious moments online, but hide the most painful. We build a facade of happiness and success but inside, we are as lost and broken as the next person. Our online selves need more authenticity. And our children need to know the danger of comparing themselves to the rose-colored profiles created on social media.
- Your self-worth can not be calculated by likes and shares and retweets.
- You can’t expect anyone else to guide your teenager. Relate to them about what high school was like for you. Ask them about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Also, be on the lookout for warning signs your teen may be developing a problem.
- Use media hype to your advantage and use sensitive headlines as an opportunity to begin a dialogue.
- Supervise- their activities, even when you aren’t able to be there in person. Follow up on his whereabouts and check in regularly.
- Research sites and understand the digital world. Knowing potential problem areas can help you avoid traps and pitfalls.
- Talk about “edited reality”. Discuss photo editing and profile grooming. Anyone can edit their updates and online presence. Teens are likely to be “concrete and literal thinkers” and may jump to conclusion that they are not worthy or that everyone is better than them.
- Remind your child that deleting a tweet or post won’t completely remove the comments. The Internet doesn’t forget.
- Use smartphone monitoring software to be aware of your child’s Social Media etiquette and activity.
Raising teenagers can be an adventure of a lifetime. This voyage can be delightful and terrifying at the same time, especially as our children maneuver in two worlds at once.Technology can hinder or improve our parenting, but it doesn’t need to be feared. The digital world allows us to keep updated with our teens and help translate their behaviors. It’s always best to prepare for unexpected surprises along the road.