Teens and Technology
Learn to Discern
I have to confess I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love the convenience of writing this article on my iPad. But I hate when my technology quits working, like my iPad did recently. I realized just how dependent I have become on the miserable thing! I like that I have a smart phone that allows me to carry my office with me. I hate that it allows me to do “just one more thing” when I need to relax. I like how spell check points out, and in some cases automatically fixes, errors I make when I am writing. But some days I hate auto correct. I have never texted “I’m in bed with a nasty clown” like the woman in a TV commercial once lamented, but I have had some interesting miscommunication with Donna thanks to autocorrect. Our students have been born into the digital culture, while we are digital immigrants. As a result, parents experience many of the issues that immigrants do when they immigrate.
A survey conducted by Nielsen in December 2011 “..found that teens send an average of 3,417 texts a month, 7 times an hour. Girls were the most verbose in their findings too — they send 3,952 messages per month compared to 2,815 by the boys.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/texting-and-teens_n_1365650.html) That is an average. I have spoken to parents whose teens log more than 8000 texts a month, do the math on that!
Like it or not texting has become the primary way that students communicate.
I know parents who are concerned that the changes the digital culture are bringing are really bad.
As a digital immigrant texting seems to be, in many cases, an inefficient way to communicate. I prefer to talk to people like in the olden days when high tech was a pushbutton corded phone. One of the questions we have to discern as parents is “Is this bad or just different?”
Texting is very different from the way we communicated with our friends when we were teens. There is a negative side to texting, it can be used to bully, it can interfere with students’ sleep when they take their phones to bed with them. Cell phones can be used for sexting, and things get said over text that would never be said face to face. However, this does not mean texting in itself is BAD, it is just different. This is the culture they are growing up in, and as their parents, we need to help them learn to use this technology in a healthy, godly way.
Because our students are growing up in a world that is radically different from ours, one of the challenges for us, as parents, to get our heads around what their world is like. We tend to feel the world we grew up in and are comfortable with is good and theirs is bad. We need to help them evaluate what is just different and what is bad. We need to help them see and compensate for the dangers inherent in the technology.
In an effort to help the professors at Beloit University understand their students they put together a “Mindset List“. It highlights a number of things that are a part of their world that effects the way they think and act. I would encourage you to take a look, it contains some interesting things that are worth thinking about.
Our kids world and the way they go about navigating it is not necessarily bad, it may just be different. As parents we need to help them learn to discern.