Digital Native Parenting
“The high-tech revolution has disrupted much of the basic life-skills learning that in prior generations would have taken place in almost any tight-knit family. Today, nuclear family members may still live under one roof, but they often substitute cyber interactions for traditional social exchanges with relatives and friends.” – Dr. Gary Small, M.D. & Gigi Vorgan iBrain –Surviving The Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind (HarperCollins, 2008)
The microwave buzzed, drowning out Ellen on the flat screen in the kitchen.
“Trevor it’s time for dinner.”
Terri walked to the bottom of the stairs and yelled “Trevor! Dinner!”
Her iPhone vibrated in her jeans pocket.
Whatz 4 dinner? Trevor texted from his bedroom.
Modern family members can be isolated into individual digital cocoons of information, entertainment or escape. The impact is detrimental: disconnected parents are raising distracted kids.
Honestly, we probably aren’t going to change the world. Might as well find a way to cope with technology, or at least tame it. I don’t see too many newbie iPhone-attics ditching their new toy with all the cool apps. The Amish are intriguing, but not cool.
The reason why most of us have kids in the first place is because we wanted to influence something more formidable than a puppy. We wanted to leave a legacy. We wanted to contribute. But I know that for some parents, some days you look at your kid and feel all that you have contributed to is some form of fiendish bio terrorism!
In previous blogs I’ve discussed the difference between digital natives and digital immigrants. Our kids are at home with technology – they always have been. We parents? Not so much. (We are the immigrants and the Apple Store is the new Ellis Island).
If we can’t interact and communicate effectively with our kids, then we can’t influence them, nurture them, bond with them and guide them. We will be disconnected. This digital gap isn’t ideological, it’s technological.
Here are some tips to close the digital gap and enhance your influence with your digital native child:
- Use technology to be aware of where your child is; what she is doing; with whom; and when and how will she be home.
- Know his online friends and have access and passwords to all his accounts.
- Have family meals together and encourage conversation and do not allow any TV, phone, text, video games etc. for thirty minutes.
- Cell phones and computers have bedtimes and not in your child’s room.
- Discuss and post written limits for technology with consequences.
- Discuss various unsafe scenarios and how to handle them.
- Schedule face-to-face time with each of your kids.
- Alternate physical activities with digital ones (go on a walk, bicycle)
- Develop a weekly family Sabbath for connecting, resting and playing without any technology.
- Create a family mission statement and strategies ways together of living it out daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.
Help your child see that technology is a privilege, not a right.