Sitting at the airport recently, I looked around and was just amazed at all the digital devices. Phones, computers, and tablets were everywhere and there was no age discrimination. Young and old, even very young and very old were all engaged with their devices. Everywhere I looked, people were looking down…at their devices. There were just a few chatting on the phone (the noticeably “older ones”). These were mostly women chatting with family and friends on the phone and a few snatches of business conversations heard among the men.
Some teen girls shared comments with each other as they looked down at their phones– no doubt there was something juicy on social media!
Others were reading on tablets. And some were working on laptops, I guess using every precious moment left of their time to get work done.
It’s not just the airport where I see these devices. They are everywhere! We are “on” whether it’s in the car, at work, in the store, or at home. Everywhere. Heck, we have to be told to turn off our devices at the movies! I laugh at the “no cellphone” sign I saw a couple of weeks ago as I waited at the doctor’s office while “listening” to 3 different cellphone conversations going on around me. This used to be my guaranteed “catch up” reading or “make a list” quiet time. Not anymore. We are connected constantly.
No Parent Envy
Sometimes I miss my kids being small children, but I can honestly say with today’s technology I don’t envy parents of youngsters at all. Parents have to constantly battle the usage of time for these devices. How much is too much? And then there is the content to think about – which sites are they on, what are they watching, what’s being said, etc. Not to mention the all-important gut-wrenching question – How old should they be before they get their own cellphone? (Good thing our kids are grown because hubby says, “When they can pay their own bill”). I, on the other hand, know that’s a little unreasonable in today’s world.
One thing we do have to keep in mind as the grown-up is that we are the models. What are your habits with your digital devices? Are you always looking down while your child is trying to talk to you? Is the phone present while the family eats dinner? We need to be mindful because the youngsters are always watching and they mimic what they see.
Recently, The Today Show shared highlights from a study about tweens (8-12yr olds) and teens (13-18yr olds) usage of their digital devices. Again, I don’t envy any parents with young people in their home today. The study found tweens use an average of about six hours (5:55) worth of entertainment media daily. That’s excluding time spent at school or for homework! WOW! The good news (at least for me, the reading educator) is they are still reading and the tweens are reading print (not spending a whole lot of time reading, but I’ll take it)! The study is worth checking out. It has some pretty fascinating information. Share it with your young people – actually try having a conversation with them while looking at the screen!
One thing I think we can all agree on – technology is definitely here to stay. And it’s ever changing. There are some really cool things out there. Just as we should eat and drink in moderation, I think we need to apply those same sensible rules to our digital device usage (if only for our own sanity).
REMINDER: You are the parent. Use your power and set boundaries for your young people and the use of their digital devices. Some day they will thank you!
See you in 2 weeks!
Wishing everyone an early "Happy Thanksgiving" and safe travels!