Originally Published: June 7, 2017 6 a.m.
Jefferson Bethke once said: “We refuse to turn off our computers, turn off our phone, log off Facebook, and just sit in silence, because in those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are.”
Is it possible that we as human beings have become so dependent on technology that we’ve forgotten our true selves and wouldn’t know how to pick up the pieces if those ties were suddenly broken?
I wouldn’t go that far, but the overnight YouTube sensation may have a point. After all, I recently tried to go back to a flip phone and didn’t last a day.
So how do we protect our children from falling into an abyss of technology that seems to have engulfed our own identities as parents?
Allison Slater Tate penned an article for the Washington Post called, “Parenting as a Gen Xer: We’re the first generation of parents in the age of iEverything.”
In the article, she states the current generation of young parents had the last of the truly low-tech childhood, and are among the first of the truly high-tech parents.
Basically, all of my own parenting models were pre-internet, pre-smart phone, when mom had a 50-foot cord attached to the phone, enabling her walk around the house and chat with her girlfriends.
In those days, we still drank water out of the garden hose, had to be home before the streetlights came on and thought a tweet came from the bird nesting outside a bedroom window.
The truth is, right now, there is no right or wrong answer. Trial and error is the best approach we have at the moment. Maybe one day our parental generation will write ebooks about our experiments.
With that, here are three strategies for raising children in our technologically-driven world:
No. 1: Encourage technology
The fact is our children will need to know how to operate their world’s technology advances. We need to embrace it and prepare them for success in the future.
No. 2: Age appropriate guidelines and moderation
No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media accounts until their teenage years. My children are 5 and 3, so I have a ways to go and who knows if these platforms will even exist by then.
Let them play educational games and watch cartoons on an iPad. This especially comes in handy to separate them for some peace and quiet now and again.
As for moderation, don’t be afraid to flip the television off, hide the tablets and silence your cellphone. You’d be amazed at the fun games your kids will come up with all on their own. Don’t stand in their way, or try to control it. Let them be kids!
No. 3: Interaction without distraction
The best example I can offer for this is the dinner table. A rule in my household is no television, phones, iPads or Kindles at the dinner table, whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner. We eat together, talk together and have face-to-face interaction, as much as possible.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.