Sunday, September 19, 2010
Teens and Technology
As a high school teacher who is surrounded by teen agers all day, I am aware of the impact that technology has had on this age group. I want to preface this post by saying that technology is a wonderful thing. I am, obviously, not bashing technology all together because without it...well...I couln't have this blog. What I am about to address has been weighing heavily on my mind since school started, and the sermon this morning made me think about it even more. So here goes...
Over-exposure to technology is stressing our kids out. They are constantly connected to one another. When I was a kid, we got a break from the drama at school when we were home in the evenings. When we wanted to talk to our friends, we had to call them on their home phone. We wouldn't DARE call after 9 pm, and we tried not to call during dinner. Our kids now days have no concept of when is appropriate to call/text one another. They never have a break from each other. Gossip spreads like wildfire thanks to facebook and texting. We all know it's easier to say things when we're not face to face. Well, these kids can be so toxic with the things they are texting to one another. What I'm trying to say is, our kids need a break every once in a while from this continuous connection. The funny thing is, I will have kids receive texts during class...FROM THEIR PARENTS!!! What? There is no reason to have immediate contact with your kids when they are at school. If there is an emergency, or you need to get a message to your kids, call the office! They'll gladly get the message to your child!
We are allowing our kids to think that having a cell phone--fully equipped with pics, text and internet--is as important as breathing, eating, and sleeping. It's so important that they try to text while driving. They think they must sleep with their phones. Nonsense. There is no reason for our kids to sleep with cell phones in their rooms. Parents...take the phone at night...there, I said it. Take the phone from them!!! Tell them to leave their phones off during the school day!!
Let your kids know that you are going to keep an eye on the things they are doing. It is your right and your JOB as a parent. Everything that our kids are doing online and on their phones is there forever! They are making decisions that will affect them forever! Stick your nose in their business. Friend them on facebook (if they don't accept, they lose their internet priveleges). Check the texts on their phone from time to time (let them know that deleting messages will lead you to assume they have something to hide), put the computer in a public room of the house. Who cares if they don't like it. Who cares if they throw a fit. Put your foot down! Privacy?? If your kids are getting bent out of shape because you are invading their pricacy, they are probably hiding something. Besides, they have no privacy at school--we can search their lockers, backpacks, purses and cars--you, the parent have those rights and more!
But here's the hard part...we have to lead them by example. We have to show them that it is ok to put the phone down and give each other face to face contact. Don't text and drive! Don't talk on the phone loudly in a public place! Don't talk on the phone when you are in a meeting (would you believe that I had parents on their cell phones at open house??!!). Don't call them while they are at school. Don't answer the phone while you are eating dinner. Set aside some technology-free time each day. We would all benefit from some unplugged time each day. Even if it's just an hour...turn off the phone, tv, computer, and video games. Read a book! Talk to your kids! Play a board game! Teach your kids to enjoy down time and quiet time.
Take the time during the technology-break to have conversations with your kids. It is much easier to have meaningful conversation when one or both parties is not texting or answering their phones. This would be a great time to talk about what's going on in your kids' lives, and to talk about really important stuff--smoking, drugs, sex...we have to talk about that stuff to our kids. It's more important than ever. They are being so strongly influenced by technology and media. If we don't have these conversations, they'll just be influenced by the people they are seeing on tv and things they see online...you don't want that! AND if you have these times on a regular basis where you and your kids can communicate, your relationship will be so positive that they'll see and understand why you are being so nosey when it comes to their technology use.
So, since we all know that technology isn't going to go away, we have to learn how to keep it under control. It is no longer good enough to say "technology isn't my thing". Be proactive and PARENT your kids when it comes to technology use.