technology and parenting

Technology is a great servant, but a bad master: help kids take control

Technology is a great servant, but a bad master.

This take on Francis Bacons quote “Money is a great servant but a bad master” could also be replaced with the words the internet, social media, device, smart phone or any number of those things in life that we love and yet hate. Those things we need and yet don’t always want. Or want but don’t always need.  That which offers us so very much and yet takes away in equal measure.

When it comes to learning to live in a world dominated by technology, we are opening ourselves up to a world of opportunity, connection, experience and learning at a pace and scale unprecedented.  At the same time, we are exposing ourselves to a world potentially dominated by overuse, disconnect, fraud, vile and inappropriate content, predators, haters and a depreciation of self worth.

As people and parents of this digital age our role is to help our children ensure that the technology, the internet, the social media and their devices remain a servant to them, and not their master.

When technology is a master…..

  • We don’t know when to put away the device.
  • We bully others as a way to work through our own issues and lack of wellbeing
  • We are bullied
  • We can’t put down the game controller to come to the dinner table
  • We use the screen to anonymously hurt and harass
  • We constantly look for loopholes in someone’s status update to get ourselves heard
  • We wait desperately to count every ‘like’ on our latest Instagram photo
  • We measure our self worth by the accumulation of likes, comments and shares
  • We become intimidated by the online gamer who viciously attacks our strategy
  • We forget to enjoy the moment or smell the rose, too busy checking emails or newsfeeds
  • We become depressed at witnessing the happy holiday updates of others or the achievements of those in our feeds
  • We compare
  • We disrespect others
  • We disrespect ourselves
  • We have no control

When technology is our servant however……

  • We find joy in seeing what our friends are sharing and relish in their achievements
  • We have our sense of social injustice ignited by the plight of those less fortunate
  • We are able to use connections and content to help make a difference
  • We create where we may not have before
  • We are shy and introvert, yet we find a place to be heard
  • We make a movie or compose a song
  • We are comforted by the sense of community and support from an online group or forum
  • We find empathy from others for a shared experience
  • We use video streaming to see the face of a relative overseas or a grandchild’s first steps
  • We relish in the stress release as we battle out a computer game
  • We develop skills of analysis & spatial functioning and thinking outside the box as we create whole cities with minimum resources and fast approaching enemies
  • We view live footage from a part of the world we only dream of visiting
  • We study artefacts or artworks from museums and art galleries around the world
  • We can work from home
  • We can connect with people in our field of work at the touch of a screen
  • We can easily seek out the expert
  • We can learn, connect and work in ways that our disabilities had previously made impossible
  • We can continue to thrive in our relationships and our face to face interactions
  • We know when and how to get back to nature and enjoy our surroundings
  • We have control

We need technology to be our servant and not our master, and of course we want that for our children. Most of us will continue to experience elements from both sides of the ledger. But being aware of the level of good and bad influence is imperative in order to make a change.

This is why we need to teach kids the skills and the behaviours to get the balance right. To maximise the great stuff, whilst minimising that which threatens to overwhelm.

I know that our understanding of the technology and our connection with our children allows us to achieve that.

What about you? Is the technology your master or your servant? In what ways can you take back some control?

My ebook “Parenting in a digital world: stop fighting, start connecting” is a great resource for parents to make this happen.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Belinda from Gallerie B

    These issues are just starting to become relevant with my 10 year old. Some great starting points for a conversation with her about the pros and cons. Thanks Martine x

  2. Amy @ HandbagMafia

    I think it’s definitely all about balance- it’s a fine line to tread!

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