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.