This is the first generation that has ever mastered a multitude of tools essential to society before the older generations have. Because of constant exposure to digital devices – because of chronic digital bombardment – this generation has grown up in a new digital landscape – digital is their language of choice – their native tongue. Children are more connected to these gadgets/ screens, thus leaving families disconnected and disengaged.
Getting through to my 12 year old daughter sometimes is frustrating for my husband and me. She is 12 years old and addicted to social networking sites and her cell phone already. She seems to always have an attitude/opinion about anything and everything. How can we work through this?
There has been a dramatic increase in parental concern about technology “overuse” as more and more children and teens have their own smart phones and more of their social life is spent on line either texting or on social networking sites. While it is clear that there is huge benefit to growing up digital, worries about “constant distraction, multi-tasking, decline of real-world social skills and “cyber-addiction” are growing.
I have become a supporter of what I call “Digital Discipline,” which I think it is just as important as digital literacy. By “Digital Discipline” I mean developing the skills, behaviors, and practices that enable kids to take advantage of the benefits while avoiding some of the costs. Specifically,
- Kids should spend a reasonable amount of online time and not let it crowd out other important activities.
- Kids should cut down on the multi-tasking since we know it contributes to “partial attention” and “constant distraction.”
- They are able to put away and ignore the technology when they should be doing something more important, like paying attention in class or talking with family and friends during meals.
- Kids observe a technology curfew so they get the sleep they need.
- Parents and teachers should set and enforce clear limits and consequences around technology use. Of course this is easier said than done.
- State your expectations around technology use as to when, where, and how much. Make the guidelines clear.
- Be specific. For example, “We agreed that you would stop texting by 10 pm on school nights. If you choose to text after 10:00 PM, you will lose your cell phone privileges for two days.”
- Choose an importance you can enforce and live with!
- Consistency is critical. Your child or teen needs to experience the negative effects of a poor decision. If you waffle he/she will not learn this important lesson.
- Love, affection and care will work fine when you explain to them the need of an hour. Practice what you preach and it will work wonders.