(Written by Scott Collen and Edited by Elle Yi) We all know technology is affecting the way children communicate with each other (and us parents). Back in the day, we would write little notes, then graduated to phone calls. Soon after that text messaging became the favourite form of communication and now there are Facebook, Twitter, Kik, WhatsApp and Reddit.
Could this shift of pace in how children communicate be changing the pace at which they build relationships? And are we as parents keeping up? An article in the NY Times laments how millennials have got a “hook-up” culture and have forgotten (or maybe never knew) how to date or court.
And members of parenting Q&A site Quib.ly agree – especially when it comes to Valentines cards: “For as long as I can remember, every Valentine’s Day the post has brought a cheesy card signed with a ‘?’. A decades-long secret admirer? No. It’s from my mum!,” wrote mum of two, Siobhan O’Neill.
Siobhan goes on to say: “In the age of Twitter, Facebook and the much media-maligned ‘sexts’ apparently prevalent amongst teens, will the Valentine’s card become an outdated thing of the past?”
And sure, this is a worrying thing. Will the mystery and intimacy of written letter S.W.A.LK (sealed with a loving kiss – just in case you missed that) or a ‘?’ in a card from a secret admirer be downgraded to SnapChat message, sext or perhaps a buzz from Durex’s step up from sexting?
Perhaps this is part of a wider problem that increasingly our children’s lives are led online and “the real world” is starting to get a bit fuzzy round the edges. As parents we’ve all felt the impulse to let them use the iPad an extra hour rather than take them outside Taking children on a big adventure is one way to get the reality back. Although with all that info at our fingertips thanks to the interweb is it an adventure?
Cliff Jones, parenting writer and Quib.ly member, says it’s not: “The decisions we make, from where we eat to the music we buy, are the end result of our consulting reviews and opinions of peers. Not only do we seldom throw caution to the wind, we track the wind 10 days in advance. We ask our friends about the wind and we watch YouTube videos on the best caution-throwing techniques.”
Once in a while go some place without checking on TripAdvisor, don’t YouTube the activities, don’t take the virtual tour of the house you’re letting.
So instead of wading through a long string of information rich websites so you know what to expect of a place (or maybe even the restaurant that the nervous first date is planned for), encourage children to live in the moment…
About the author: Scott is one of the editorial team at Quib.ly – the Q&A community for parents and experts to talk about raising happy, healthy kids in a connected world. He’s a bit of a geek (you’ll rarely find him off Facebook or Twitter) and he’s fascinated with how kids use tech. Aside from Quib.ly Scott works with schools to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.