It seems that a popular topic for discussion lately, when there is discussion, is the technology, no technology, social media, no social media, electronics yes or no debate. It seems to affect our generation, in our 30s and 40s with teenage kids. Many of us grew up with black and white TVs, no cable and no gaming system what-so-ever. 'Portable phone' meant you could make the long cord stretch from the kitchen wall around the corner and maybe into a pantry or closet or stairway. If you were really lucky you might have a 'teen line'.
We like technology we have been growing up side by side with it. The first mobile phones, shaped like a brick and weighing more! Atari, Nintendo and Sega. Cable boxes and the first TV remotes. We are conflicted though. We had great childhoods full of tree houses, camping in the backyard, telling ghost stories, running with a pack of neighborhood kids and staying outside from sun up until after dark. We rushed inside for food and back out again. We went to the library and read for hours. We want these things for our kids too.
We rationalize by saying, well it's different now, kids can't just be out on their own like we were. Can't they? or are we just so paralyzed by our own fears of what might happen that we can't let them out of our sight? Shouldn't we be educating them as best we can so they can get out there on their own? Shouldn't we utilize the communication technology we have to increase their freedom? Instead of letting them turn into a bunch of mushrooms hiding out in the family room texting, messaging, gaming.......
Meanwhile we rack our brains wondering why they seem to be so unable to make common sense decisions, why they won't stand up for themselves, why they are constantly wondering what to do instead of just doing it.
I think they are losing their ability to communicate in any way that involves direct person to person contact. All that 'skin to skin' bonding we did with them when they were infants, the eye contact, and constant chatter so they would have well developed brains and vocabularies. We are systematically reversing all the work we did by handing them device after device in the name of advancing technology. They don't want to call, they would rather text. They are more than happy to meet online for gaming or group text, but if you ask them to go out with their friends and meet somewhere, TALK TO EACH OTHER, they act like you just asked them to go to school in their underwear.
We have struggled with all of our kids from kindergarden to high school with a reoccurring theme on all report cards and conferences, it boils down to 'more work, less talk'. Not surprisingly my husband and I both have ancient report cards with similar comments on them! As parents we dutifully chastise them for talking when they should be listening, and tell them to do their talking during lunch and recess, not during class. As the kids we used to be we totally get it! How can you possibly contain all the excitement of the day into some cafeteria or playground chat?
I had a realization the other day while running. I do a lot of thinking while running, after all how can you run that far, that much without some sort of distraction. Music can only do so much for a person. Maybe we should be proud of them for communicating in a non electronic fashion. Obviously we would not in any way encourage them for talking at inappropriate times or distracting others, but there is a small secret voice in me that says, 'way to go for being a good old fashioned Chatty Kathy, for getting out there and exercising your mind.' I guess if that's the only negative comment on the report cards, I'll take it. Never mind they all have the handwriting of a serial killer because no one teaches handwriting anymore.........I'll save that for another post.