Yesterday, when trying to explain the concept of generation gap to my kids, I realized once again that their view of the world and their expectations are already tuned in into new possibilities and innovations. On finding out that my friend didn’t have internet until age 16, simply because it didn’t exist, my daughter exclaimed; ” how did you survive so long without it” and my son was seriously concerned and asked how he would spent his time and entertain himself. This goes for the mobile phone as well. The thought that I didn’t have one until I was in my twenties was shocking. The least of all because of how I would tell the time, or set an alarm, or get in touch with friends.
This morning I stumbled across this article in the NY times; in the article a Kaiser family foundation studies is discussed that reveals that media consumption by children between the age of 8-18 is up again. I was pleased to see the following quote by Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health;
” with media use so ubiquitous, it is time to stop arguing over whether it is good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.”
And in my opinion that is exactly what we need to do. Yes we can have lengthy and heated discussions about whether this is good for them, taking in arguments of addiction, social deprivation, loss of concentration etc. As I did have some weeks ago at a parent school night on online dangers. But will that change the world our children already live in? At school I was asked to deliver my opinion on new media and online friending and gaming. It shocked most parents who would not accept that their children already think in a different way. At the end my only answer was; “We can go on discussing this for hours but it doesn’t change the fact that this is how our children live these days, and how they will function later and need these new skills in their careers. We can pretend we do not see it and be scared, or we can accept it and guide them with the rules they still very much need”. See how they ask questions on all sorts of subjects on multiple channels and have the answers pouring in not as lazy (why do they not look it up for themselves) They realize that sometimes asking in their networks is simply more efficient and get you far more answers in far less time. They learn how to sift through streams of information and tell the valued from the crappy answers, they are developing much needed skills for the still rapidly changing way we share, take in and publish information increasing the data flow everyday. We need to be proudly aware of that, whilst trying to have them see the basic good and evil stuff on that different plain as well.
picture by wilgengebroed