One thing’s for sure, there are certainly opposing schools of thought with regards to our kids growing up in the digital age.
Jason Silva is a media artist, futurist, philosopher and keynote speaker. He created a short film called “Shots of Awe” which is a series of trailers for the mind, which explore innovation, creativity, futurism and the metaphysics of the imagination.
He certainly drew a crown of enthusiastic listeners and he speaks excitedly about his topics of specialism. He draws people in as he builds his listeners into a frenzy of excitement when he talks about how technology is redefining and extending what it is to be human. He asks his listeners to be awe struck with what’s happening in the world around us and he quotes Shakespeare, ‘We know what we are, we know not what we may be’.
This is pretty freaky if you think about it. According to Jason Silva, he answers the question about what role robots will play in the world, and in his opinion they will be become our kids! What? He believes they’ll inherit the earth as we change and excel, thereby extending the reasoning part of our minds. He is of the opinion that humans will become transhuman. He gives the example, that Mozart could never have been the legendary musician he was if pianos and violins had not been made. We certainly don’t know what we’re becoming as technology fuses with humanity and lift us into unknown areas.
So, he predicts epic change, and this is just a snap shot of how the human race will change and he believes that we can already see this in the kids of today.
There is no doubt that our interaction with each other is changing; when was the last time you actually picked up the phone and made a call as opposed to being connected via a social media and text messaging. Our bodies are also changing as we’re more sedentary and less active. He says that the cerebral regions of our brain are accentuated as different learning approaches occur.
Think about when you go on that epic family vacation and you meet people that have never even been exposed to technology, and probably never will; economics will define the outcome. This is an interesting thought. Kids in countries without sophisticated or even basic technology, where computers haven’t been part of their education, are already feeling excluded as they enter the job market. Computer literacy is a must have in today’s job market, and without it you’re disadvantaged immediately.
Have you ever sat down with your child at a computer or with their iPad? Quite frankly it’s astounding. They race around the screens knowing exactly what to do and they outwit you…and most of it is self-taught. Hmmm, are we becoming dinosaurs as parents? Let’s certainly hope not. In the technology area of kids’ lives they rule, you’re not the dominant factor in this scenario! So what do we do? Well get those techy gadgets out and start playing and more importantly make sure as a family there’s some seriously effective communication happening.
Make no mistake technology is a part of our world and we need to equip our kids to deal with it, but there is a fine line between the amount of technology we allow them access to and how we mix this is with other parts of life.
But how have kids’ lives changes as a result of our great technology age?
1. Kids are saying goodbye to outside
Fact! More and more kids are playing inside and are attached at the hip to their devices, computers, and video games. This can affect their health and obesity could become a problem as it’s on the rise the world over!
2. Where has face-to-face interaction gone?
Now this is a bit scary, and perhaps there’s a lesson for us too! Lead by example! Ever been to a restaurant and taken a look around? How many people have their noses stuck in phones…a LOT! Even if we go all the way back to when your kids were babies, they learn to communicate and gain essential skills by watching their parent’s expressions. But, we’re all stuck on our phones or electronic devices, so that little bit of learning gets chucked out the window. Paediatrician Dr. Jenny Radesky’s study of 55 groups of parents while eating at fast food restaurants verified this statement. We need to rein it back in, and help our kids communicate. Long term travel will certainly help this allowing your kids to interact with people in different ways.
3. Relationships are affected
Digital parents can often focus so much on their devices that they then to forget about their parental duties when needed, and when they do interact it is often negative and harsh. You might be reading that all-important email from work, and forget that dinner needs to be prepared, and then once you’ve got your nose out of your device, it’s getting really late and the kids are starving. We’re not suggesting here that you’re neglecting your kids, but you may be delaying duties that need to be done.
4. Kids’ reading ability may be affected
A study by West Chester University showed that kids reading comprehension could be affected and that kids who read paper books were better at comprehension than those using only eBooks. Kids on eBooks tend to skip a bit of text and concentrate on the interactive visual features such as popups
5. Kids have never really played real family games
This is unbelievable…the number of kids online has increased by 38% since 2009. That’s a substantial amount. Most of these kids amazingly haven’t even played a board game in their lives! That’s sad. A family games evening of board games is not only awesome fun, but it’s a great way to get that bonding going! Kids learn to take turns, win or lose, and build confidence and self-esteem. Digital games cannot replace human interaction, EVER.
6. Kids forget what real friendship means
So how well do you know your virtual friends? Not that well in some cases. Virtual friends certainly cannot ever replace the real kind! Real friendships offer different emotions like loyalty, support and learning how to develop lasting relationships. The average teen sends about 3,000 texts a month. Whoa!
7. Creativity come back
The famous inventor of the wind up radio, Trevor Baylis, is concerned about our kids. He believes that they are losing their creativity with no hands on practice. As a child he learnt to put things together with his hands by playing Meccano or building model aeroplanes. Sadly, kids often don’t do this anymore.
8. Kids are not learning empathy
Empathy is such an important life lesson and it is also all about being tolerant, caring and controlling your emotions. Our digital era kids are not learning these skills. You certainly can’t empathise with a device or care for it, well let’s say at least not yet. Playing with other kids is learning about sharing, taking turns and giving too. Not sure an iPad will share with you!
9. Homework is being affected
When kids know what’s waiting for them when it comes to electronic games or on a computer or handheld device their homework is being affected.
Jacob L. Vigdor, an economics professor at Duke University said that when adults weren’t supervising computer use, children “are left to their own devices, and the impetus isn’t to do homework but play around.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation found earlier this year that half of students from 8 to 18 are using the Internet, watching TV or using some other form of media either “most” (31 percent) or “some” (25 percent) of the time that they are doing homework.
As parents this is our responsibility to get right, and to make sure devices are turned off when it’s homework time, unless of course they are needed for study, but then some supervision needs to happen, but there’s also got to be a level of trust too. It’s a fine balance.
10. Kids are getting no input on values and attitudes
There seems to be a trend of a lack of social interaction which we’ve spoken about before, but what this really means is that we spend less time on teaching core values such as tolerance, kindness, honesty, diligence and respect.
11. Kids are losing sleep
Dr. Kimberley Young, Director of the Centre for Internet Addiction Recovery, yes there really is such a place, has warned that kids may lose track of time while online. This affects their mood and they become irritable when forced to switch off. One of the most serious aspects is loss of sleep and we all know what a tired child is like. It’s not a pretty sight!
12. Brain wiring
Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School warns that, “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.” “Their brains are rewarded not for staying on tasks but for jumping to the next thing.” This is quite true as kids need to learn some staying power and to complete tasks before hopping onto the next.
13. Kids toys have changed exponentially
Have you had a serious look at our toys today…wow, they are quite something! We’ve got Barbie dolls that have a built-in mini camera “necklace” to take videos and watch them on the LCD screen on the doll’s back, or upload them to a computer. Lego Mindstorms EV3 31313 is a fresh update to the next generation of robots. Kids create an advanced LEGO robot with a “brain” that features a powerful 32-bit microprocessor and more memory, plus support for USB, Bluetooth and more. The child can create humanoid, animal, or vehicle robots that respond to their commands and command their robot from their mobile phone. The robot can react to touch, sound, light, movement, and colour.
Talk about tech toys! Play has certainly changed!
14. Kids have unrealistic concepts of human behaviour
This is scary yet it’s so true…there is a high level of violence and sex which kids can easily access on their devices even if you’re watching over them. There are pop-up ads and all sorts of unsavoury things. Our kids can be exposed to images of things which can be highly disturbing, psychologically damaging and project unrealistic views about life.
15. Exposure to cyber bullying
New technology has made it easier for bullies to reach their victims.The UK charity Family Lives says it is on the rise. This is one thing to keep a serious eye on.
It is not uncommon to hear of youngsters committing suicide because of being bullied using digital means.
Yes our kids are spending a lot of time on digital devices, but it’s up to us to manage the time spent on them, and to make sure we give them a balanced life through different adventurous experiences!