I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last month, along with help from your comments and what is buzzing around in my own head. This is a work in progress, but I’ve started to believe that our conversations around the impact of technology on our lives is around the wrong way. I’m thinking this because the focus of these conversations tends to be on the technology and the newest whatever; not on the quality of relationships.
So, I think the challenge for us all is to become much more mindful about the place we want technology to have in our lives. Rather than worry about whom is doing what, thinking more about the quality of interactions with our various devices. Does this relationship with – facebook for example – enhance or detract from my quality of life. This is a question that could become an everyday event. Each member of the family could ask both themselves and each other. A bit like asking “what’s for dinner”.
Surprisingly, I find adolescents remarkably honest when asked do they feel better or worse when they are in relationship with their favourite app? Their response is often a variation of I enjoy it in the beginning, but then I can’t turn it off and so I become obessed and anxious for fear I’ll miss out on something. There it is again, good old fashioned fear controlling us again. Even on our own in the safety of our bedrooms.
Back to core values. What are the family values and beliefs around external input. This could be friends (real ones), T.V., extended family or any other phenomenon that comes into everyday family life. What ever a family believes is right for them becomes the guide as to how to deliver technology management strategies. If this is hard to work out, ask the kids, they can usually clearly articulate the core values of their parents. Once these are clear, they define the parameters on how, and where, to set the boundary around usage.
Don’t forget we all have our bad days when we’ll succumb to the never ending whinging. I believe it’s the setting of the boundary that’s important – the kids need to know where it is – even though it might be a bit rubbery.
Because technology is continually changing the adults will always be running behind the kids. There’s nothing new in this, I remember my parents horror when I bought my first pair of jeans. So, rather than focusing on what the latest thing is and trying to control it, I think it would be helpful if we save our energy for setting that boundary. Helpful questions for doing this might be, is this particular program/game or whatever …. providing an experience that feels okay or not? Is it consistent with our family values? The core values are the guide as to when to intervene whether, for ourselves or our loved ones.
Just a little aside I’ve overlooked and will talk about in the future, this all works very well when the parents agree, and the core values around input from the external world are shared. But if the parents don’t agree…… that’s for another time.