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The Digital Generation

How technology is robbing kids of their childhood.

Digital technology is a bit of a bugbear of mine. I know we can’t go back and I know how reliant we have all become, but as parents it is imperative we make very conscious decisions about our children’s use. We must also set rules and enforce them even if these rules make us unpopular. Our kids may feel upset and be mad at us, but at least they will be safe. Children’s safety is paramount to most parents and measures MUST be taken to manage the risks posed by internet use.

Social disconnect leads to isolation and a skewed sense of reality.


My personal belief is that prolonging the abstinence of technology, phones and devices  in fact protects childhood. I know some will say phone use is a necessity, and I don’t disagree, but the guidelines must be stringent. I’m not saying it is easy to do! It will be damn hard, but our kids are worth it! 


There is nothing wrong with YouTube per se, but it does worry me as a parent the impact that it has on our kids. As a learning tool it is fantastic (you can literally learn how to do anything!) BUT as a form of entertainment, it’s a slippery slope I don’t want to expose my kids to, (both the content and the possible addiction to it). I find it too risky to ultimately place my child’s viewing in a stranger’s hands, to give a stranger access to my child’s brain! What is seen, cannot be unseen! It’s staggering to think how many hours a large proportion of our children are watching unsupervised, sometimes uncensored crap! The recent dangers with the “Momo Challenge” have highlighted just how easy it is for seriously damaging content to be thrust upon even our youngest most vulnerable minds. I won’t go into the depravity of those responsible for the production on these videos or the culpability of YouTube in permitting these to be broadcast, but I will say as a parent the safest option is to put a stop to the viewing before it is too late.


Apart from the dangers of these latest videos, babies watching adults playing with toys, kids watching others gaming, teen watching explicit materials, there are serious issues with all these youngsters viewing screens instead of experiencing real life! 

Safety is paramount, the loss of innocence is at stake. The risks are simply too high.


The prolific viewing epidemic is further isolating our youth, there is a distinct disconnect from others with online friendships outnumbering real friends. Screens have replaced the need for friends and the opportunity to interact and physically play and communicate with others. Family time has been infiltrated by technology and we are rarely without our phones in any social setting. Social skills, empathy, compassion, conversation and sense of belonging are all at stake in the technology era. It is surprising just how many kids nowadays have a skewed view of popularity and success where an ambition to be a YouTube star or influencer, is revered rather than pursuing careers that are meaningful or provide value to society. 


My boys are young and I have sheltered them from gaming and viewing. My eldest does have an iPad (he watches Netflix and plays some offline games), he’s allowed to use it on the weekend, never after dinner and it is only ever used in our living room. I have myself questioned whether I am in a way ostracising him from his peers or depriving him of IT skills, but the benefits of restricting his use and viewing outweighs these negatives so far. The pressure will most likely increase with age as my eldest becomes a teenager and I am bracing myself for it.

Sensitive children

Sensitive/ anxious/ fearful/ worried children.

Most people at one point or another in their lives feel overly sensitive or overwhelmed by emotions or fears. Some also experience anxiety related to these feelings. Often sensitive children are the products of sensitive parents (either one or both).

Is anxiety caused by genetics? Researchers are still divided on the cause, environmental or hereditary, the old nature-nurture question.

I certainly learned without a doubt this week that this overly sensitive (sometimes anxious) mum has produced two sensitive (sometimes anxious) boys. They are very different personalities and their sensitivities are somewhat different too, but they (we) all have very similar traits when worries set in!

One thing that is true, is that there isn’t an easy or quick fix. Often, as well intentioned parents, our first instinct is to jump in and stop the fear causing thought by removing whatever it is causing the fear. We try to solve our children’s fear by protecting them from experiencing it. For example if the fear is heights, we won’t take our child to the rope course. I am definitely ‘guilty’ of this! Sometimes our ‘fixes’ are exhausting, the elaborate and methodical planning all in vain.

We try to solve our children’s fear by protecting them from experiencing it. Instead of preventing a child from experiencing the fear/ sensitivity/ anxiety, our role can be to teach them skills and strategies to help cope in these situations.

This is because the strategy of protecting our children from the fear actually reinforces them to think that they should be fearful. We project increased fear onto them, instead of reassuring them that they are safe and can learn to work through it.

Instead of preventing a child from experiencing the fear/ sensitivity/ anxiety, our role can be to teach them skills and strategies to help cope in these situations. Giving them exposure and opportunity to practice is much more powerful than avoidance tactics. The teaching will take time and patience, it is never an easy endeavour and there will be hiccups and regressions along the journey. But over time your child may learn to recognise their worries for what they are and be able to use a repertoire of coping strategies. And most importantly they will feel supported and always know that you are a safe place for them to open up.

I know personally, worries I have had throughout my life, have always been lessened when I share my feelings with a trusted person. They say a trouble shared is a trouble halved. And while the worries may not disappear, the act of talking about it is like a personal pressure valve release. Often the trusted person gives you a different and more logical perspective and you feel better about your capacity to cope.

We can’t expect a teenager to share their feelings if they haven’t been supported to do so as a young child.

Encouraging our kids to talk is a massive part of protecting their mental and emotional well-being. Anxiety is on the increase and it’s rearing it’s head at a younger and younger age. We can’t expect a teenager to share their feelings if they haven’t been supported to do so as a young child. If we start early by encouraging our kids to talk openly about their feelings, worries and troubles, maybe we can prevent depression and the social isolation that has lead too many to a devastating end.

Your child can learn the essential skills to develop resilience and coping strategies, then practise them in a supportive small group workshop with one of our Connected Education “Connected Kids Workshops”. For more information contact us or follow on our Facebook page for upcoming workshops in your area. We are always looking for new locations! https://connectededucation.com.au/connected-kids-workshops/

Empathy

The world changes when we change our perspective.

This week I’ve been talking with my pre-teen boys group about empathy. Before we begin this topic, we examine respect towards others. Respect is our golden rule and from that empathy develops. Empathy is an understanding of other people’s feelings. The boys learn that we all have different feelings and responses to situations. They have practiced looking at situations from different perspectives. We did a drawing activity to demonstrate how the same object appears different depending on your point of view.

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Respect is our golden rule and from that empathy develops.

Trying to look from the other person’s perspective is a helpful lifelong strategy when faced with conflict. We are more likely to make assumptions whenever we neglect to consider another’s perspective . These assumptions may lead negative feelings, thoughts or behaviours. Aggression and conflict are more likely when parties fail to see each other’s perspectives.

When we walk in another’s shoes we are more likely to relate to people and show compassion. This is an essential component in building positive friendships and for resolving conflict. Empathy is a skill that can be taught and developed. It requires encouragement and opportunity to practise in a supportive environment.

Your child can learn the essential skills to develop empathy and practise them in a supportive small group workshop with one of our Connected Education “Connected Kids Workshops”. For more information contact us or follow on our Facebook page for upcoming workshops in your area. We are always looking for new locations!

Connected Kids Workshops

For Parents