7 Important Strategies for Raising Children in a World of Technology
At this point in our evolution, everybody has the potential to connect with anybody else around the world in an instant. We can call up historical facts, research any topic, determine our
ancestral heritage, even imagine what the world will look like in 50 years. We can speak with robots, drive in autonomous cars, analyze and parse reams and reams of data, populate virtual worlds, utilize digital currency, and yet, all of this technology will just continue to propagate and grow in volume and intensity in the years to come.
So how do we traverse this landscape while making sure our children do not get engulfed in this flood of technological innovation, and some might say, digital overload? Typical concerns are:
- Amount of screen time consuming our children’s lives
- Technology’s detrimental effect on more socially and physically engaging activities
- Inability to monitor all content being consumed
- Rampant social media, which can be derogatory and hurtful (cyber-bullying)
- Anonymity of digital existence, which makes anti-social behavior more sustainable
- Dark web, which allows identity theft, terrorist plots and other nefarious activities
- World that increasingly values automation over traditionally valuable careers & pursuits
1. AMOUNT OF SCREEN TIME
Screen time is a legitimate concern for parents. Between a cell phone, iPad, TV, computer and other competing devices, a child is constantly being drawn into his or her own all-consuming digital world, which is a lifeline to one’s friends and the world at large, and a way of escaping from family and more mundane realities. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is extremely prevalent with children, especially tweens and teens who are constantly concerned about their social status and being part of the “in” crowd. Knowing about what your friends and classmates are doing, projecting your own image and keeping up with the latest pop culture trends tend to force children to become extremely digitally dependent. For parents, it is important to engage their children in conversation, encourage them to put down the device and get some exercise, meet with friends in person to discuss real issues, and make sure the child is keeping up with his or her responsibilities, such as homework and doing chores. If rules are broken, then it is important to be strict and take away digital privileges, such as screen time (TV, video games, etc.) and bring them back to a more tactile “analog world”, so the child does not sink into a state of digital ambivalence.
2. TECHNOLOGY’S DETRIMENTAL EFFECT
A digitally-inclined child may be seeking a way to avoid other obligations or concerns. It is important to bring the child out of his or her shell, by getting them to engage in the world around them. Get them to go outside, get some fresh air, have a meaningful conversation about a topic that is important to them, play with the dog. Even though the digital world can be a comforting refuge at times, it is also unfeeling and limited in its ability to interact with your child in a way that lets the child connect and experience life fully.
3. INABILITY TO MONITOR CONTENT
No matter how hard you try to assert parental controls, your child will find ways to access content that you consider to be detrimental to their well-being. You need to be vigilant, but not so controlling that you lose your child’s ability to trust and confide in you. The more you resist, the greater their desire will become to push the boundaries of your parent-child relationship.
4. RAMPANT SOCIAL MEDIA
The social pressures of a digitally-enabled childhood are extreme. Everyone is connected at all times and the ability to make inflammatory, derogatory or otherwise hurtful comments exists 24/7. It is the parent’s job to dampen the flames if anything overly negative is said or portrayed about your child. You will not be able to prevent the insensitivity from occurring, but you can assist and support your child to cope with it in the best way possible.
5. ANONYMITY OF DIGITAL EXISTENCE
Digital anonymity is a major problem on the web, because it allows a mean-spirited person to act without fear of reprisal. It exacerbates the rampant social media dilemma and leads to catfishing and other deceitful actions that a person wouldn’t otherwise necessarily do if not for the fact that they can exist under the cover of digital darkness. Parents should discourage their children from interacting with anyone online whom they do not know personally. Do not accept someone’s friend request or other overture of friendship without having a non-digital awareness of who that person is and what kind of character they have. Many people’s intentions on the Web are suspect, which largely stems from the fact that they can maintain anonymity by creating a false digital persona. Parents need to make their children fully cognizant of these unworthy associations.
6. DARK WEB
The dark web is where the most unsavory parts of the Internet reside, including organized crime and sex trafficking. It is where criminals go to subject others to identity theft, plot terrorist attacks, attract vulnerable recruits, distribute malware and other viruses, and generally seek to profit at another person’s expense. The key is to educate your child about what to look for when it comes to phishing, email scams, ransomware and other cyber-attacks.
“Artificial intelligence could make countless professions obsolete (within the next 20 years).” Medical and legal professions, journalism, airline pilots, financial professionals, and others were all cited as being vulnerable to takeover by robotic replacements. This same article cited a 2013 study by the University of Oxford Department of Engineering Science, which estimated that 47% of current jobs, perhaps within 10 to 20 years, are at risk of being supplanted by automation. Parents need to stay aware of what professions are in danger of being reduced or eliminated and make sure that their children are being educated and prepared to work in fields that will still be relevant by the time they enter the workforce. Though robotics and automation will inevitably be a positive economic engine, they will also have a profound disruptive effect on our children’s occupational futures.