Last week, the Washington Post published an article reporting the challenges parents feel when dealing with today’s digital youth. Most notably was the challenge of distractions that are caused by kids’ digital activities, as well as their struggle to withhold digital privileges from their children.
I don’t get it.
You see, as a kid I participated in many activities myself, which unmonitored, became distractions – friends, television, sports, and yes, video games. Even further back, my parents had their own distractions as kids, and so did their parents.
I think digital grounding is a cop out. You see, the activity itself isn’t the distraction. It’s the misbehavior that results from lack of moderation that is the issue.
It is parental responsibility to help their children manage their use of technology until they learn to self moderate — much like managing other aspects of child development and discipline. When I was younger, if I wanted to go skiing when I had homework to do, my parents always made sure I completed my homework first. Eventually, I “trained myself” to do the same to keep my priorities in check.
But for some reason, which I believe could be simply a lack of understanding, there seems to be a growing trend that misses that point when it comes to kids’ digital behaviors. Rather than teach moderation, people are quick to label all things digital as distractions.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that a kid’s life today is very technology centric. And that means there are 24 full-hours of digital activities that kids can engage in, and potentially be distracted by. But, again, the issue is not the device, but rather the behavior. For example, for the tween who texts while at family dinner, the issue is not the texting, but the disrespect of family time. Regardless of if this is caused by a cell phone, or ignoring a little brother, the issue needs to be addressed, not the technology.
The article also shared the dilemma some parents feel when it comes to withholding digital privileges, because they are so ingrained in their kids’ lives. That is the real problem here.
As a kid, my “activities” were just as ingrained in my life. When restrictions and moderation occurred, I thought my life was going to be over. But it wasn’t. And I learned that moderation makes a responsible society member.
We spend a lot of time teaching kids the importance of digital safety, and being a responsible digital citizen. That’s one of the reasons I created ScuttlePad.
But perhaps we also need to be a little more like our parents, and teach kids that digital moderation, like all other forms of moderation, is a fact of life, and simply part of being a responsible digital citizen.