Everywhere you look, you see children or to use a marketing term "tweenagers" plugged in. Plugged in to mobiles, games consoles, televisions and hand held devices that are having in my humble opinion a huge, detrimental affect on society.
I've not felt entirely easy with this for about a year, as slowly, I was seeing children (some as young as 7) having facebook accounts with the consent of their parents who "monitor" their activity. I really couldn't understand WHY they would be allowing this, encouraging screen time, when in my humble opinion, kids should be out experiencing the real world and NOT a virtual one. I for one, don't want to be "friends" with my childrens friends, I mean why on earth would you want to, I mean seriously?
This to me is again crossing the whole parent vs friend debate. I strongly believe that a parent should be a parent and not "best friends" with their children. I don't want my kids to "tell me everything", I am more than happy to NOT know the ins and outs of being a teenager. I can remember my own youth for that, thank you very much! What I am for though, is open communication, where talk about anything is respected and easy. I want to nurture open relationships but still keep that parent/child divide.
Increasingly, I am seeing households where children rule the roost, where parents let the kids do what they want in order for an easy life and where rules, boundaries and discipline are lacking. Families are NOT being families anymore. Parents are on the laptops in one room, the kids are on the ipad in their bedroom and nobody is talking or communicating to each other in the ways that we used to, it's all tweeting or texting or facebook messaging. Whilst this is great in one respect (keeping in touch with long lost friends or family for example) it is bad in others as families are missing out on the chance of real, quality family time which is sacrificed for the virtual world.
Consequently, children are not learning social skills, they are suffering from sleep problems and they are un-monitored as a lot of their "virtual world" goes on in their rooms. You can't have missed the story recently where a 12 year old boy was found guilty of ra**ing a 9 year old girl after watching online p**n which is absolutely shocking. Where were his parents when he was watching this? Why wasn't be being monitored? Why is it so easily available? For research, I googled "P**n" and was shocked at the results. I mean, really, really shocked. This makes playboy look like Bunty magazine.
On our rugby tour a few months ago, we were debating this very issue. Sixteen of us agreed that it is parents who need to take responsibility for their children, to not conform to peer pressure for the latest smart phone or games console and whilst we agreed that technology is a great invention, we are a long way from seeing what the implications of this "plugged in" generation will be on society.
So why are parents turning to technology? The easy option? A babysitter (because lets face the real hard fact, it is far easier to get on and do something if the kids are playing computer games/surfing) or something else. Peer pressure perhaps? Parents for whatever reason being unable to say No to their offspring?
I rarely allow my children on the laptop. They do IT at school or if they want to research something at home, then I do it with them. I feel that as parents we need to buck the trend and take responsibility for our children before it is too late.
I'd love to know what you all think.
Peace and Love