By Zunammie Keren
In this age of ever changing technology our tweens and teens are thoroughly immersed in their own world of apps, obsessed with communicating with their peers with a flick and a swipe of a finger or thumb even though they may have just spoken to said peer or friend face to face a few minutes before. As parents where do we start in once again connecting with them, and not via text, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram or any other form of gadget or app that we’re now too old to be privy to. You are passing bedrooms hearing full blown conversations only to discover while distributing the clean laundry that your teenagers are locked away in a global virtual reality friend world that you are not a part of.
Are your children obsessed with technology?
This is not a sermon, there is absolutely nothing wrong with technology, it’s useful, can be educational, relaxing and time saving and lots of fun but there are those times when the basics of talking, finding out what is going on in each others lives and just spending quality time together without the interference of a phone, a screen or any other handheld device is most definitely necessary to develop and strengthen family bonding, create an atmosphere where our children will feel comfortable confiding in us.
What we as parents need to remember is that the social dynamics that we used to experience have shifted slightly. Where we experienced peer pressure in the playground and shopping malls or wanting to be part of a group to feel accepted, this is now experienced by our children in a different setting. They now want and feel the need to be part of the group who interact using technology, find out the latest news on social media platforms, communicate with each other using the latest games. Don’t forget, they don’t hang out at record or cd stores anymore, Spotify and iTunes is their musical friend. They no longer sit at the bottom of the stairs using the phone in the hallway they are using FaceTime, IMO and other apps sharing their thoughts, ideas and passions in vine snippets.
Our ideals cannot be placed on them in the same way. There has to be some form of tolerance and understanding from both sides. That balance in all things is important. Technology is important to them and fun but so is nature and the undiscovered surroundings that they live in. Show them the other side of the coin so that they can appreciate a world outside of a screen.
How you can help
To rediscover how to be a part of their lives is not to pressure yourself or them into thinking ‘technology is bad’ but how to use it wisely. We too can learn from them and do not dismiss it as ‘oh, that’s their thing’ because there are also pitfalls to not knowing what your teenager are doing online. Just arm them with the knowledge to be responsible when using the internet, interact with the other parents and set up both tech and parental standards in the home. A few ways to encourage this is to set the examples that we wish to see by:
- Assigning a time for yourself to not take those non urgent phone calls just to talk about the latest Netflix series with your bff.
- Plan events that the whole family can enjoy.
- Physically leave the house and do an activity together. Go for weekend walks or do some form of regular fun exercise such as swimming, football or try something new like go-karting, ice skating.
- Have meals together as much as possible around a dining table and not around a TV. Make meal times a gadget free zone.
A great way to combine both activities as a family is photography. A very simple idea and it is gadget focused but it enables you as the parent to use an ordinary digital camera and your teen with their phone/camera. You both decide where to go, decide on a theme at first and see who can take the best, the most unusual, the most eerie, the most futuristic, the most fun, most natural. I think you get my drift. At the end of the activity the best pictures can be shared on whatever social platform they choose. This may develop a new hobby and remember they can’t just take photos in their bedrooms!
If a few of these things are done on a regular basis fingers crossed our tech obsessed children will carry on these good practices into adulthood so there’ll be nothing to fear with them having a little down time playing a few computer games and hey, they might actually enjoy and share their family activities on social media.
Taken from the May 2017 issue of Geek Parenting, out now!