I’ve always been a defender of kids using the internet, social media, computer games and texting etc. Too often I’ve felt that the media portrays these things as bad, dangerous and sinister. What can be the harm compared to all the benefit of information, ease of communication, creativity, and new skills they are learning. But recently I think maybe I’ve not considered it enough. A child psychiatrist pointed out to me recently how this generation of kids are the first to have constant 24 hours a day social interaction. Literally he said, kids were so concerned about missing out on whats happening amongst their friends and peers that they would be waking up at 2 in the morning and logging in to se what they had been missing, plus invariably with such large numbers of online friends all feeling the same pressure there would be someone there to chat with thus affirming their belief that they had to be constantly interacting. If he had his way he would get rid of all social media.
Whilst as a self confessed geek I think this is all amazing and wonderous and would find it hard to argue with turning back the clocks, what I have been failing to see is that theres no longer any time for kids to reflect, to grow up on their own for a bit. Earlier generations would have had the holidays away from their school friends for weeks on end not communicating with them and so the pressures of their school social life would have been taken away from them so that they could reflect, re-adjust and move on. There would be cousins and old friends that lived away from their home town or country that they would only see a few times a year or maybe not for years. When you got back together you would carry on where you left off in the relationship
But not anymore , the tendency now is for it to be on constantly, and its so hard to stop it; if its not facebook, its twitter, if you cant tweet you text, and so it goes and the temptation for an aspiring teen (or pre-teen) to check up with whats going on is immense.
Plus its not just physical friends and family anymore, theres a potential army of virtual friends and acquaintances all over the world in different time zones even that you can feel the need to communicate with. Impress, amuse, assist, befriend , protect, belittle, bully, love and hate not just those in your immediate vicinity but across the globe potentially
Reflecting on this its not just teens that are effected. We all are impacted to a greater or lesser extent depending on how much we have embraced these new-found means of communicating. For myself the fact that I am writing this blog is a symptom of this new affliction if thats what it is. I am determined to discover the ins and outs of social media, to find out the best ways of using it and to discourse and discuss with an ever-increasing audience. But I guess I’m an adult and dealing with that pressure (or ignoring the urge) is something that I’m better equipped to deal with.
But I’m grateful to my psychologist friend for reminding me that just because the kids are so much better at using technology, we oldies mustn’t forget that we are better at dealing with the issues they bring and we never had the experience they are now having at the life-stage they are at.