Playing a new game: Why parents must keep up with technology

Why do we need to understand the technology that our kids are immersed in?

The reason is simply that. It is their world, and like it or not, they will be immersed.

As a parent it is our duty to understand it, relate to it, connect with it and ultimately to continue to teach our children how to survive in it.

Too often we hear parents lament that it is “all too beyond them”.  They believe they will never ‘catch up’ with the knowledge and skills that appear to be innate to this generation.  Whilst kids will likely be one step ahead in their technical knowledge and abilities however, we as parents must insist on staying as close as possible in order to effectively educate and guide them through the pitfalls.

No matter how much knowledge they have, more often than not, their developing brains, the influx of hormones, the propensity for risk-taking behaviours and the inability to effectively navigate consequences will continue to ensure that their emotional maturity lags far behind their technical expertise.

The teen culture of today is not all that different to years gone by. Kids still like to hang out, be popular, have a place to express themselves, gossip, flirt and escape controls. In the past however, they could do all these things in settings that were relatively private.

The playing field has changed now.

Today Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites have become their bedroom, backyard and corner store. Now, via these sites, they are creating profiles, making lists of friends, adding comments and updates, contributing to newsfeeds and providing a continuous stream of updates on their daily movements.

There is certainly a positive element to all this. Kids are staying in contact with friends longer, those that are geograhically isolated can feel part of a social group and there is a plethora of creating and sharing.

But. Hanging out online differs greatly from hanging out in real life. Online spaces are unique.

What is said online stays online, possibly forever.  What is said online has the potential to reach hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people.  Peoples profiles and onlne activities become their reputation and potential resume.  And with the advent of mobile devices, our kids are now to be located and their whereabouts on show for all to see.

So whilst our children may well be comfortable with the technical side of the online world, they still need to work within social boundaries and to continue to discover how society works. They are doing this however in a very public place, and hence we must do all we can to ensure their reputation remains in tact and their safety is paramount.

We need to guide, educate and support them with an understanding of their world and a clear perspective of all they face.

There are new rules that are changing almost daily, and we must join in on their game.

 

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This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Ai Sakura

    Mmm yes! It’s amazing what kids get into now, and since they have ventured online… “playing” is not as innocent an activity as it used to be.

    1. Martine

      No its not always innocent, or more to the point there are plenty of others out there who are not! There are some wonderful aspects to the technology, we just need to keep up in order to overcome the bad elements.

    2. Stuart

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  2. Totally agree with you Martine. I have a friend who refuses to get involved in technology. As she puts it, she’s been dragged into the 21st century and now checks her email every 2-3 days. To her it’s like a principle. She takes pride in the fact that she’s not sucked into all of this. I can see her point of view but yeah when you’ve got kids, you need to know what’s going on.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

    1. Martine

      Yes it was certainly a common argument but I believe more and more will be recognising that their principles may no longer cut it when their kids are so totally entrenched. You dont have to be a computer genius, but we must be aware of what our children are doing and all that they face. 🙂

  3. Bee

    This is something that worries me as my kids get older. I’m very thankful that The Man works in IT, so it’s part of his job to keep up with technology and to know how to keep us and our systems safe, but it can still be hard to police what kids get up to online. I am glad that they are making cyber safety something that is mandatory in schools now so that kids can be taught how to stay safe, and it is definitely something that I will be teaching my boys.

    1. Martine

      It is great that it is being addressed more, however it is more than just privacy settings etc. WE must make sure we understand better what our kids are exposed to and ensure that our connection with them remains strong so that we can continue to guide them.:)

    2. Kiran

      16a17035fdVery nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and watned to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case Ie28099ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon! 187

  4. Its frightening to contemplate the risks. I think one of the best protections is open communication and ongoing education with your child.

    1. Martine

      You are spot on Bree. And to have that open communication we must have some understanding of what they face.

  5. Sam-O

    I agree it is important to keep up, but also to ensure your children are educated about what they are doing online and any future ramifications of what they put out there. The school we chose reinforces these values and is focused on other things, like physical activity amoung other things, with technology as a tool. They run constant information and education sessions for the parents so we can be fully aware of what is happening in our childrens school lives.

    1. Martine

      That is great Sam that your school is so aware and offering information about what is going on in the kids lives. We certainly should be encouraging all sorts of areas of their development such as physical activity, but remain aware of what it is they are doing in all aspects of their lives.

  6. You’ve put this so well yet so simply. The balance between letting our children have some independence and freedom and being helicopter parents seems so much harder than when I was younger. But given the relative scope of the dangers in cyberspace, we can’t be lackadaisical about it all. I’m glad hubby and I are technologically aware but the scary thing is that the playing field may well change again in a handful of years, given the pace of technological advance.

    1. Martine

      Thanks Veronica. It is changing all the time and will continue to do so for a long time yet! That is why it is important we continue to try and understand where they are and what they are facing. We are lucky that we are involved in social media and the like and so have a better idea than many, however it is still true that our kids are connecting in different ways and for different reasons than you or I.

  7. Jess

    It’s funny you write about this. Just today I was watching my 19month old use the art maker app on the iPad. She can turn it on, locate her game, and do a fairly complicated puzzle. All things I’m sure my parents would have trouble with. It reminds me that I need to be a step ahead. I’m so grateful for blogging in that way. Prior to blogging I had a passionate hate of social media, because I had never seen it’s good side. Now I have, and I unserstand it, so I can enjoy it with my kids, when the time is right.

    1. Martine

      Me too Jess, I am amazed at what my 2 year old can do. And yes there certainly is good side, and being in that ‘world’ as parents certainly helps us understand more about all aspects of the online world.

  8. Emily

    Yes to everything you said. It’s scary thinking of what our kids will be exposed to (and what they will expose of themselves), but also a chance to learn. Together. Visiting from IBOT.

    1. Martine

      Certainly a chance to learn, and we should also allow our kids to teach us things…they do love to show off their knowledge

  9. I wholeheartedly agree! My hubs is very technologically minded and he is a big believer in making sure that we are aware of what our children will get up to on their computers (and phones and ipads and whatever else they have in this ever changing world). It is such an important area that can be easily overlooked.

    1. Martine

      It can be overlooked….and it can also move so fast so we need to stay at least a little bit in touch before we lament that it is all too hard.

  10. kirri

    I have some younger cousins who I sometimes ‘dob on’ to their parents (who are not on FB), only because it scares me how they put themselves at risk so easily… Sometimes they get upset with me but when we talk about it, they do eventually get it and their parents are horrified and sometimes disbelieving of the things their kids are posting….I will be eagle-eyed with my girls when they are older and I agree, that its my responsibility to keep up with technology.

    1. Martine

      It is true that sometimes our kids do things that shock us, or that we didnt think they would do. We really do not want those times to be plastered online for all the world to see. I think a few reminders of that will never hurt.

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