Whether it’s texting a friend or downloading the newest song off iTunes, being a kid has changed drastically. Gone are the days of waking up for Saturday morning cartoons and in are chatrooms and spending hours watching YouTube. It can be argued that technology has made our lives easier and enables us to accomplish more, but to say that technology has improved life all around is far fetched.
Do you remember when you would wake up Saturday mornings and watch The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or go over to your friends house for a sleep over and get excited when you could stay up past your bedtime? You may not remember all the details, but you do remember how much fun it was to be a kid. As a kid you worried about when you would lose your next tooth and whether you would get the ‘nice’ teacher at school. Nowadays, kids have different priorities and different agendas.
To give you an idea of what kids know and do now, I asked some 11 year olds the other day if they knew what “Monopoly” and “Jenga” was to which they responded no. When asked if he knew who Britney Spears and 50 Cent were, they knew immediately. 11 year olds don’t know popular board games, but do know pop sex idol, Britney Spears, and rapper 50 Cent. Do you see something wrong here? Kids are growing up too fast and technology has a huge part in this.
Technology can be a powerful tool when used wisely. With that said, how do we expect children to use it wisely when they don’t even have a firm understand of what right and wrong are? The saying, “let them figure it out on their own” should not be applied to this argument. Make the wrong move and technology has no ‘restart’ button. When parents needed to keep their kids distracted they would commonly give them a toy to play with or let them watch cartoons. Nowadays, children are given cellphones and computers instead. Just the other day I had a friend request on Facebook by a 7 year old. I rejected it, but it makes me wonder the impact of technology in children’s lives and upbringing.
So what are your kids learning?
It’s okay to date older people
Teen pop queen, Miley Cyrus has made dating older ‘cool.’ When people discovered that 16 year old, Miley Cyrus was dating 22 year old Justin Gaston, did people explode with backlash? Nope, and neither did kids. Kids look up to icons like Miley Cyrus and will emulate them whether it is good or bad.
Sex is no big deal
Need to learn about the birds and bees? Just watch TV. Kids don’t need to hear it from their parents anymore, they can just watch basic cable and learn from a 30 minute show. Here they learn that sex is casual, sex is no big deal. Believe it or not but their was a time when kids would believe babies came from storks. I don’t think kids even know what storks are anymore.
Why read when you can Google?
For the most part, unless they have too, kids would rather just Google the answer to a question. With so much information available and kids with plenty of access to the internet, Wikipedia has replaced the public library and critical thinking is a thing of the past.
Cellphone = life
While for most of us having a cellphone is just a part of life, for kids it becomes their life line. Just the other day I was at a restaurant and saw a girl who could barely look over the table with a smartphone. Unless she is a youngest entrepreneur in the world, she has no need for a phone let alone a phone that can receive email. How often do you see kids texting someone or on the phone? Yes, I know times have changed but do you need to text your friend 24/7?
As I mentioned, I understand that times have changed, but that doesn’t mean you have to grow up too soon. Being a kid means not having to worry about ‘big people’ problems. Presently, it seems that the trend is that kids want to be adults now. Kids act like adults and even dress like adults and it seems that society is okay with it.
Businesses have also realized it and have taken full advantage of it. Companies now realize the spending power of these new consumers and have targeted them to great lengths. From issuing debit cards to young eager spenders, to setting up whole advertising campaigns like Blackberry’s for teens, companies don’t see kids, they see dollar signs.
Is it exploitation by companies to target kids in their campaigns? Maybe, but it was bound to happen. As soon as we started giving kids the power to be an adult through cellphones, computers and mature content on television, we turned them into powerful consumers with a false sense of a childhood. Technology is not a tool to kids, it is a toy. It is a toy that they don’t fully understand but can’t get enough of. As the saying goes:
Too much of a good thing can be bad for you.
It is our job to know when technology becomes ‘too much.’ If we don’t then how long does childhood last?
Photo by Wiseacre