Rev. Michael Davison
I get asked about technology and family life or youth culture a few times a month. And now the disclaimer: I am not a “native” in this new digital frontier. I am somewhere between an early adopter and innovator, what I call “native” in the absorption of technology into my life. (See Diffusion of Innovations for more.) By native I mean that for those born after the year 2000, technology and devices that connect a person to the Internet and everything associated with it, for them the pace and acceptance of technological change is a second native language. Parents have the daunting task of trying to keep up with and manage what their children and youth can access via smartphones, Internet connected devices like XBox, Playstation, tablets, and the old fashioned laptop computer. Not too long ago parents only need monitor the landline phone, snail mail, the social group of friends, school grades, one or two extra-curricular activities, and regularly change the parental code on the cable box.
When I speak to parents, to youth groups, or when I occasionally blog about this topic it comes back to “access.” Some have more or less access based on their economic situation. But, it is more than just being able to afford the newest tech toy or Internet speed. Access is what has changed most, it seems to me, about growing up and how the world interacts with children and youth who, like their parents, will deal with their share of peer pressure, bullying, body image, sexuality, moral dilemmas, market forces, and community. To what or to whom do you give your child or youth access to help traverse the challenge of growing up? What tech apps, clubs, extra curricular activities, sports team, religions, or entertainment corporations have access to your family, child or adolescent?
It is not as simple as unplugging or doing without. To do so will limit your child’s ability to navigate and translate the world. You will, most likely, make the taboo all the more desired when the rebellion years arrive. You remember those from your youth don’t you? I think one answer is responsible moderation, and, more than ever before, having balanced filters for the information we interact with and absorb each day. How many different sources do you read or listen to for your news each day? In a world where everyone has their own facts what institution or media outlet or university can be trusted most for the truth and the Truth? This too is the world in which children and youth are growing up. We have to teach the skills that lead to balanced filters for information, entertainment, and communication to our children and adolescents. That begins with adults and reflecting on our access. To whom or what do you make your life accessible and give time? Children and youth learn most from watching what adults do and how adults go about living more than they hear what we say about living. It is about the consistency of the belief and practice of your model, mentor, hero or heroine. That hasn’t changed. CommonSenseMedia is a site I find helpful when I’m researching articles or ideas for post-modern parenting. Parenting Editor, Caroline Knorr, has some good tips, 7 New Year’s Resolutions Every Family Should Make in 2015.
Be well and centered on your journey.
Rev. Michael Davison serves as Associate Regional Pastor for the Christian Church in Oklahoma. Fun Facts:
First year in high school stats: 4’8” tall, 78 lbs, long hair, freckles, and a tennis player.