Review: Generation Text: Raising Well-Adjusted Kids in an Age of Instant Everything by Dr. Michael Osit
Many parents are concerned about the effects of modern technology on their kids. At younger and younger ages, children are spending more and more time interacting not with human beings, but with cell phones, computers, video games, and other devices. Do we have reason to be worried about this, and how do we go about setting limits?
In the book Generation Text, 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. Parents owe it to their kids to set boundaries when it comes to the use of gadgets, for their kid’s long term physical, emotional as well as social health.
Statistics show that kids spend more than half of their playtime in front of screens. The effect of this is that they are somewhat disconnected to the family. Why should parents be concerned about this?
1. Social skills – when “intermachine” interaction replaces people interaction, kids will not readily learn to pick up social nuances. For example, texting eliminates many challenges socially that contain important lessons for kids and teens to learn.
2. 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.
3. 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. Children can be exposed to ideas and concepts that are disturbing and that can change their developing brains. In the past, parents tried to protect their kids from these influences until they were more mature and could make better decisions. Now it’s harder than ever to do so.
Excess – kids who live in economically privileged parts of the world have too many privileges and possessions. There is often is a sense of entitlement with these things. What’s acceptable and common for the age group is not always appropriate. Parents need to think about what’s best for their child and family, not what the neighbors are doing.
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. Many parents are going overboard in expending too much money, time and resources. Parents are operating in a busier, fast paced world and because of guilt we say yes, sometimes to compensate for a lack of time.
Studies show that kids – even teens – really do respect and admire their parents and want to please them. They also crave to spend more time with their parents. We need to start creating more balance with our kids and give them the gift of our focused attention instead of more gadgets.
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. What’s needed is to 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 and some of these are free from the internet service provider. 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 and setting a good example by turning off cell phones at the dinner table and on family outings. Model the behavior you want. If a parent is addicted to their “Crackberry” they can hardly criticize their child for being addicted to their Nintendo DS!
You can find Generation Text: Raising Well-Adjusted Kids in an Age of Instant Everything at Amazon.com