"Nothing is worse than active ignorance."
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Have you seen the recent commercial of the family who just got the new iPhone 6s for their teenage daughter? The commercial is advertising new usage plans aimed at families who consume high volumes of data use. The family highlighted in the commercial is driving down the road with dad at the wheel, mom as passenger, and the daughter in the back seat, completely engaged in all the functions her newly acquired multi media device has to offer. The daughter is talking to her friend when the dad asks, “Is that an extra expense”? The mom assures dad “it’s in the plan”. Dad proclaims, “We are awesome parents”.
Next the daughter is taking a selfie capturing the momentous moment and texting it to her friend. Dad worriedly asks mom “Is that included in the package or an extra expense?” Mom confidently confirms, “It’s covered”. Dad replies, “We are awesome parents”.
Lastly, the adolescent daughter is seen wearing headphones and rhythmically bobbing and swaying with exuberance to which her father sternly quips, “What is going on back there?” She replies in a loud voice, “I am streaming my music, this is so awesome!” Dad begins to question mom when she interrupts with quiet assurance “its in the plan”. And dad repeats one final time “We, are awesome parents”.
As I watched this commercial I thought about families who come to my office impacted by technology and its ill effects. I liken technological devices in the home to “the new liquor cabinet”. Awesome parenting in this day and age involves new skills to keep our children safe. These skills are new, and different from skills necessary in previous parenting generations.
Do you know how to keep you children safe with regard to their technology? Would you allow your child to visit the “red light district” in Amsterdam? Even worse, visit it unattended and alone? Would you allow your child to talk and visit with strangers in your home? Even worse, visit with them in your home without your knowledge? An unsupervised Internet connection serves this same virtual function.
Do you know whom your child “friends” with their social media? Do you know how their technology might be impacting them, their relationships, and their self-esteem? In 2010 a British Survey of 14-16 year olds reported 1/3 of these respondents had seen pornography online before age 10, 81% looked at pornography online, and 75% said their parent never discussed pornography with them. In 2013 a child online pole reported 60% of kids said they have been asked to send a sexually explicit text of themselves.
Just as you wouldn’t send a child out into the world without education for alcohol or drug dangers, don’t let them be exposed to the Internet without similar education and safeguards of protection. Just as you teach them about alcohol and drug use and abuse, teach them about the impact technology can have on them, their brains, and their relationships. Your children likely won’t learn this anywhere else. Research has shown until the age of 14 parents are the #1 influence over their children with regard to sexual matters. Research also shows parents will be the last resource if parents do not create the bridge of communication.
Our clinicians at RRC have specific knowledge and cutting edge training to educate parents and adolescents about safe on-line behaviors and the ill effects of technology on the brain and their relationships. We offer education for parents and psychoeducation groups for adolescents to safely explore how the Internet and smart phones impact their social life.
This summer our staff will be facilitating groups for middle school and high school age teens to explore how technology impacts their life and relationships. We also offer education information sessions for parents in our center as well as in the community.
- The Teen Girls Guide to Technology, Real Relationships, and Real Talk
- Parenting in the Age of Techology
For more information contact us at 770.676.7748