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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Raising Kids in the Age of Technology

I think everyone that is my age (anyone older than 30) can agree that life is not like it used to be. I made reference in the previous post about kids not being able to not be found and that cell phones have made it everything a mess. It is a topic that can be elaborated on. When talking to a friend about this issue, he gave me the "Toaster" reasoning and it made so much sense, I am going to use it here. Just because I have a toaster doesn't mean that I have to toast every piece of bread I have. Just because kids have cell phones doesn't mean they have to take every call or answer every text. In fact, I like this reasoning for myself. I have a very hard time not answering a text or a call but to be honest, there are times when I don't want to and it isn't because I don't like the person. It is usually because I am out with a friend or I'm in the middle of something that needs my attention (read: my kids). What is the worst thing that would happen if I didn't answer my phone? The other person would have to wait? Certain calls should always be answered, of course: kids and spouse. Nico has said a few times that he sometimes doesn't like having a phone because it is stressful and I know this is not a popular view, but I am about ready to give him permission not to answer texts. I think it would be the equivalent of when we were younger and we called someone and they weren't home. We recently had a situation where he tried to nicely tell someone that he couldn't hang out and the kid kept texting him and ended up getting dropped off where Nico was without Nico saying he wanted to hang out. It would be with the rule that he has to answer at all times when I call or text but otherwise, I am about to give him his privacy and freedom of choice back.

Facebook is another mess-maker. As an adult, I don't care who is doing what and with who they are doing it with. It take a nanosecond to scroll over it. I'll admit that I have some sadness or regret when I see friends from high school getting together because they stayed in touch but I have no one to blame but myself for that. It is a lesson learned that friendships take work and need to be nurtured and if they aren't, they die only to be resurrected on Facebook. Kids, however not only can be found all the time, but they also post what they are doing and who they are doing it with as their statuses on Facebook. They get to sign on to play a game or chat with a friend and they get to see that all of their friends or who they think are their friends went somewhere and didn't call them. Or they get to see that there was a party and they weren't invited. Raising kids in a world where everyone knows your business voluntarily is tough. There were a gazillion parties when I was growing up and if I wasn't at one, I didn't have to read about it and feel like crap because I wasn't there. I didn't have to see pictures of everyone having fun while I was home doing nothing. Again, I was more interested in hanging out with my boyfriend anyway but get my point. It is my stance that kids today don't know how to make good friends and I've asked Nico and his friends, "Do you guys feel like you really know each other? Do you guys talk about stuff that matters or is it just Madden football or complaining about homework and practice?" I wonder if they genuinely like each other or are they together out of convenience because they are on the same team or have the same interests (which I am told that with boys that could be enough). They have assured me that they really like each other and that it is easy to hang out because they like the same things or can complain about the same things but they are selfish little beings that are happy in the moment (which isn't necessarily bad) and if they are all good, they don't think past it to say, "Wait, where is so and so? Maybe we should call so and so." Some of my happiest days this summer were when my kids would decide to just stay home and do nothing. That meant that I had a drama free day.

Instant messaging and texting have lent themselves to a bunch of discussions about putting something in writing that could possible get in the hands of someone you don't want to know what you said. Even when we were younger and wrote notes, we could at least try and get the note back and throw it away. In this day and age, one text or email can be forwarded to everyone you know before it is deleted.  I always tell Nico not to put anything in writing that he doesn't want me or his dad to see. There have been a few times that he has gotten burned because he texted something to one girl about another girl and she showed that girl. He was embarrassed and got another lecture that once you type it and hit send, it's too late. You can't take it back. Why do our kids not get that? Why do they still think that when they instant message someone or text someone, it is just between themselves and the person. It never is for whoever texts or instant messages him. I check his texts and he leaves his FB page up all the time. I am floored by what some of the messages say. Absolutely floored. I try and explain to Nico that I am not the only parent that does that and that if he texts something even joking around, a parent might see it and form an opinion about him and it won't be a favorable one.

Raising kids without all of the technology was hard enough. I think it was created to make our lives easier and yet, it has made raising our kids a whole lot harder.


At September 7, 2011 at 7:19 PM , Blogger Maria said...

So true. Maybe it's a kind of emptiness and loneliness that makes us and them constantly stay in touch with each other. Who knows?

At September 8, 2011 at 5:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Now that David is 13 and is on FB, we have had to have those talks. He has already learned that he doesn't have to answer texts from friends (he was getting texts from a girl who was an old neighbor in IL and they were driving him crazy). David and Michael don't text a lot (usually) so it hasn't been a big concern. But it is tough. In some respects, I think being a teenager is harder now than it was - and it was tough when we were kids!

At September 11, 2011 at 6:18 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I totally agree that it is harder now and it wasn't that great then! The rapid fire texting is what drives Nico crazy. Can you hang out? Why not? Who are you with? What are you doing? When can you hang out? Where are you? And that is from the same person. Nico's a kid that needs a little more space than that.

At September 11, 2011 at 6:27 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Maria, I wish every kid found something other than hanging out with friends that filled them up. That way they wouldn't have to depend on someone else. On the other hand, some adults have a hard time finding things that fulfill them so why should kids be any different? Maybe that is what we should focus on teaching today's youth. Finding things outside of others to make them happy. I like it.


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