There is a lot of talk among parents about the use of technology and children. Do children spend too much time watching TV? Do they spend too much time on iPads? Is it beneficial? Should we use their names on our blogs or pseudonyms? Should we show their faces? Are we respecting their privacy enough?
I don’t have the answers or a solid opinion on the matter. I like Pinky and Perky using the iPad, we have some very education apps they can play on and I know it helps them. I don’t mind them watching the TV. I am strict with what they can watch (Peppa Pig is banned in our house) and mostly they learn things from what they watch. The other day even I learnt something about planets from the cartoon ‘Myles from Tomorrow’ on Disney Junior! Of course getting out in the fresh air is important. There is so much to learn in the big wide world. This week I have been teaching Pinky about evergreen trees and she has embraced what I have told her. This would not have stuck if I tried to teach her inside the house or on an iPad.
Yes, I use pseudonyms on the blog. It was something Hubby and I agreed I would do. I also contemplated only taking pictures of the girls that didn’t show their faces for Instagram but that became very difficult and would have meant I would have had to start over. Initially I thought this mattered. I can understand why people want to protect their child’s privacy, they are as entitled as the next person. But I have a different question to put out there… Are we looking at it from the wrong perspective?
Our children, like it or not, have been born into the golden age of technology. Social media and its influence is HUGE. It is very difficult to avoid it these days and no matter how private you keep your profiles if you use ‘cloud’ storage your photos are obtainable by others with knowledge. Remember Pippa Middleton? If you put them online at all they can be found. Does it matter? Only if you are as interesting to the nation as the Royals and Middleton’s I suspect.
So what about as the kids grow up and go to school? Personally I think it would be naïve to think they won’t want to post stuff about themselves on social media. Perhaps start vlogging. Wasn’t Justin Bieber discovered via YouTube? This is a generation where all of their friends will grow up with their baby pictures easily found online. I think it will be abnormal to not have them on the World Wide Web somewhere. I’m not saying this is right, but I think this is what we are facing as parents. Things are not the same as when we were children.
Coding is now part of the curriculum and that is amazing. It should have been included when I was at school. Technology is progressing faster than we understand and that is the real problem we face as parents. Our children are going to be able to do things with computers we just don’t understand because we have spent too long saying ‘Oh I just don’t understand technology.’ ‘What is the point of that?’ ‘I don’t know how that works.’
I have had various jobs over the years in both hospitality and the medical industry. Both areas have used computers daily. In restaurants, as a manager, I had to use various computer programs to cash up at the end of a night. I would need to program the tills daily in one job according to the menu changes. This was made much easier with basic computing skills. In the medical industry many hospitals have gone paperless or are making moves to that status. To be paperless you need computers. I used an iPad daily, what people didn’t understand was although the software or app was something they had never used before it was still an iPad. It was not as scary or difficult to use as some staff thought, they simply weren’t actually looking at what they were doing. They were too ready to give up because they were uncomfortable with the change from paper notes.
We need to learn how it works! If we really want to protect our children forget about their privacy, learn how to use a computer properly. Learn how to see what someone has looked at online. Learn how to protect your Wi-Fi networks. Learn how to block unwanted downloads. Learn all of these well enough so a teenager can’t hack past it, because believe me they will be able to and you won’t know they have done it. Google and Yahoo are great sources of information to find people or companies that can help teach you or help you find the tools you need. If all else fails and if you really can’t get your head around technology then learn the warning signs of online bullying. Seek help if you need it but don’t simply worry about it. Do something about it.
As parents we need to embrace this change in the world because to our children this isn’t a change but it is a normal aspect of life. They will never remember a time without smart phones, without high speed Internet; they may not even remember a time when it wasn’t fibre optic. The social media platforms may evolve and change but they will exist. We need to be ahead of the game because our children need us to be, the deserve us to be.