In a WHAT kind of world? Technology has now become a primary medium for the social dynamics of adolescence from middle school through college and beyond. Parents MUST understand that digital social media is more than just an important area of our teens’ lives. It has become a dominant force in shaping, containing, and expressing their intellectual, social, and moral development. In many ways, it is both the canvas and the paint with which they are creating their life murals. It is totally intertwined with their world and development, and you cannot adequately understand your teen unless you have at least a basic understanding of their digitally wireless social media world.
So, what’s the big picture here? Okay, buckle up and don’t freak out here. Your kids cant afford to have you freaking out about this…
Your kids will always be a step ahead of you in this constantly morphing digital world. Accept it. But keep your eye on the bigger picture, and don’t throw up your hands over this.
The bigger picture is that you will always have more life experience than your kids, regardless of their superior awareness and understanding of our digital world. And you must remember that GOD deliberately CHOSE YOU to be the PARENT of YOUR KIDS! As parents of technolescents, we must remain aware, educated, and proactive regarding their digital world, but it doesn’t mean we should be afraid of it or ruled by it. We need to remember, and deliberately teach our kids, that the digital world is still just a part of our whole life experience, and being the people God has created and called us to be will result in handling the social technology world in the best ways.
What’s the most important thing we should be doing? As parents, we need to focus more on Preparing and Processing with our teens than on Protecting them. This doesn’t mean we should neglect to use some reasonable boundaries of protection with them. It does mean we should work hard to prepare them for the increasing complexities of technolescence before they face them on their own. Can you imagine letting your teen start driving on his/her own without spending time together in both instructional and experiential lessons? I sure hope not! And we need to show the same kind of courage and initiative to process life experiences with our adolescents as they happen along the way. If our teens grow up with the confidence that we can handle talking with them about anything, no matter how sensitive, we will have served them very, very well.
(Stay tuned for the next installment, which will offer specific guidelines for parenting teens at different ages/stages along the way…)