The Big Experiment
Your child may be involved in a massive sociological experiment with unknown side effects.
How many of you parents out there would let your children be involved in an experiment?
Now, how many of you who said yes would not care about the side effects of the experiment?
In fact, we’re not going to tell you if there are any because, well, we’re just not sure yet.
Your children will be the “guinea pigs” so that others might learn. Sounds crazy, right?
Yet, that is just what everyone is doing these days with their children.
In that last moment, millions of texts, emails, tweets, etc., just occurred. And no one really knows the side effects.
Education is the largest offender of this type of insanity.
The field of education puts concepts in place, waits a few years, then looks back to see how it went.
Take, for example, open classrooms and whole language, two concepts completely founded on osmosis. Today we have classrooms with walls made of anything that can stand straight and we have a generation of kids who have no idea about phonics.
In a recent story on Mashable, MIT professor Sherry Turkle said she believes that “technology is taking us places we don’t want to go.”
The problem is, most of us already boarded that train and dragged our kids along with us. Maybe dragged isn’t the best word; more like they just got on while we weren’t paying attention.
Dr. Turkle said there will be “some serious consequences for our relationships, our self-perceptions and our emotions.”
One point she makes is that when we text or post to a networking site, we have the opportunity to edit and retouch what we send, while when we talk face to face, it “takes place in real-time and you can’t control what you’re going to say.”
She points out “phones are at our constant disposal, we are only paying attention to things we want to pay attention to.”
So this actually disconnects us from family, friends and co-workers. She makes an incredibly valid point that as soon as we are bored with a conversation, we turn to another device to stimulate our psyche.
Her advice is to find a sacred place and time to unplug and reconnect with each other. If we don’t, we will come to “expect more from technology and less from each other,” perhaps creating “ companionship without the demands of friendship.”
Dr. Leonard Sax likens the age of technology to the invention of alcohol.
When alcohol was first created, it didn’t take long to discover its effects, but it did take a while to realize that these beverages should not be offered to youth without limits.
In some countries, it is acceptable for an underage drinker to do so in the presence of a responsible adult.
Dr. Sax is right on target when he states, “we are living in frontier country right now” in regard to technology. Parents need to adopt the “meerkat” stance … on guard and on top of the situation at all times lest the children be eaten.
My husband and I made a conscious decision on many items involving technology in our home, particularly with our children. I’d like to tell you it has been easy. It hasn’t been.
My 14-year-old son still does not have a cell phone. He’s not on Facebook. In fact, he has severely limited access to the Internet. Not surprisingly, he is not one of the popular kids.
My daughter is 10 and, according to my son, “doesn’t stand a chance” in regard to getting her hands on cell phones and chat rooms.
Last week, when I picked my son up at middle school, he said, “Mom, do you realize that I am the only kid in the school without a cell phone?”
“See how special you are?” I answered.
However, I have never worried about cyber bulling, sexting, or any other casualty of the Internet to date.
I guess that limits my son’s social activities, but I would rather he work on his interpersonal face-to-face skills for developing friendships as well as preparing for that still-intimate task of a job interview.
In the long run, he will be fine.
I understand the ramifications of present day communication, so I think I’ll wait for the research to come out on what could happen.
In the meantime, watch the experiment in progress with the kids who are simply left to their own devices (pun intended).
Remember, though, it used to be that when the kids were loud and raucous, parents would intervene to make sure no one got hurt. But I also like the concept of “if your kids are quiet, you better go check on them.”
Wrap your wireless network around that.