Dr. Michael Osit is a licensed clinical psychiatrist and author of Generation Text: Raising Well-Adjusted Kids in an Age of Instant Everything
In the book, Dr. Osit reveals how the combination of high-tech interaction and immediate gratification is putting our children at risk for developing distorted self-image, poor work ethic, a sense of entitlement, and weakened social skills, as well as aggressive tendencies.
Points from the show:
Conflicts between parents and kids is changing and often the core of that conflict is some technological device. The “generation gap” has morphed into a generation crater. In previous generations, kids thought they knew more than their parents but really didn’t. Now, however, kids often DO understand more – especially about technology.
Kids spend more than half of their playtime in front of screens. That’s making them disconnected to the family.
Why should parents be concerned about this?
- Social skills - there is a lot of intermachine interaction instead of people interaction, so kids are not learning to pick up social nuances. For example, texting eliminates many challenges socially that contain important lessons for kids and teens to learn.
- Values - the attitudes and behavior of kids has declined because modern kids have access to the world. The messages they get are not always appropriate.
- Anonymity – we get more brazen and nervy when using technology. That’s not always healthy for relationships.
Dr. Osit talks about “access” and “excess” in his book.
Access refers to easy availability of the world and other people. Kids can be all over the world in their bedrooms.
Excess – kids have too many privileges and possessions. It’s not unheard of for 7 year old girls to have spa days, sushi in school lunches, limos for the 6th grade dance, etc. There is nothing wrong with these things but there is a sense of entitlement with these things. What’s acceptable for the age is not always appropriate.
Too much technology can lead to weak delayed gratification muscles. As parents we need to help our kids learn how to delay gratification in order for them to be happy, healthy adults. Kids don’t understand the difference between wanting and needing a new iPod. We don’t have to be patient and wait anymore in our microwave, instant download society.
Many parents are going overboard in expending too much money, time and resources. We’ve become too child centered (note from Carrie: this is a good point that is also mentioned in the The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost). Parents are operating in a busier, fast paced world. Because of guilt we say yes, sometimes to compensate for a lack of time. Dr. Osit suggests that kids earn more of their technology instead of always getting it right away.
Studies show that kids – even teens – really do respect and admire their parents and want to do right and even spend more time with their parents. We need to start creating more balance with our kids.
When used the right way, technology can be a parent’s asset. For instance, with shy kids technology can boost their social ability. It can compensate for their weakness.
Establish limits and boundaries with your kids before you give your child the privilege of using technology such as the internet. Instruct them on what they should do for example, if they come across pornography online. Computers should be kept in a public area of the home and the rules of use posted nearby. Parental controls are easy to implement. Kids should be coached to come to the parents if they stumble on something inappropriate online. Encourage them to come to you if that happens and help them understand that you won’t get angry but will talk about it. This is an opportunity for you to hand down your values to your kids.
Dr. Osit suggests eliminating distractions during family times. Turning off cell phones at the dinner table and on family outings, for instance. Model the behavior as well. If a parent is addicted to their “Crackberry” they can hardly criticize their child for being addicted to their Nintendo DS!
Keep perspective. What’s common isn’t always what’s best. Just because another family is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right.