Keeping up with the latest technology trends can be a challenge for parents. As soon as you get used to the camera on your new phone, your daughter insists on an even newer one because it can run the latest Facebook app!
And it’s not just the gadgets that are multiplying; what you can do with e-readers, smart phones, netbooks and other digital devices is ever-changing, too: communicating with sound and video; keeping up with friends and relatives regardless of location; playing games with hundreds if not thousands of other players; following the thoughts and opinions of people you’ve never met. The list is endless! At times, it can also feel confusing, especially when trying to raise well-balanced, healthy kids.
Although part of technology use is technical — knowing what button to push or what settings are needed — much more of it is developmental. Media habits and technology interests follow developmental needs. For example, in their quest for identity, teens are looking for ways to define who they are. Online spaces can be very useful in helping them do just that. Some websites are outlets for individual self-expression while others are meeting grounds of like-minded peers.
Adolescents, on the other hand, may be wrestling with ethics and or sorting out what it means to be part of a group vs. remaining loyal to a best friend. How they text and their online encounters will likely mirror these discoveries of right and wrong and social loyalties. And very young kids, because they’re just learning about basic behavior, can seem to have an limitless appetite for repetition. Watching an online video over and over again is their way of studying scripts and getting down how characters — and therefore people — are supposed to act.
Raising children is never going to be easy. But using technology to support your child’s development is a much better than being overwhelmed or intimidated by it.