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Technology and the Romance Novel

Back in the 19th century, parents feared their children reading romance novels and exposing themselves to things that they – the parents – weren’t ready to deal with. Today, we have technology. A recent seminar on raising kids in the digital age brought home a few time-tested ideas with a new twist.

We are raising our children in a radically different technological environment than we had growing up. My parents remember their families’ first television sets. I remember the first cable TV with the long wire and the clunky rows of buttons to push to change channels. The Internet has always been there for our kids; they’ve used tablets for several years.

In fact, as it was pointed out, how does a one-year-old relate to a magazine? In their eyes, it’s a tablet that doesn’t work. Think about it. It’s close to the same size. It has images, and some can look like icons. But when a one-year-old taps or swipes a page, nothing happens.

While I heard a lot of things I already knew, hearing them all at one time provided some perspective and context. The bottom line is that kids are growing up faster, and they learn things much earlier than we ever thought. For example, while most kids in the US start driving a car through lessons and under supervision by the age of 16, they have really learned about driving at the age of 5 – by watching you. That means they not only learn an attitude about driving and how to handle a car, they also learn about habits, such as talking on the phone or texting.

Technology needs to be viewed as a tool, not a treat. Today’s world holds a lot more risks than teens becoming more sexually active because of what they read in romance novels. Online activity exposes kids to risks of being lured into very dangerous health-and-safety situations, and it can expose entire families to health-and-safety and financial risks.

Further, the seminar speaker noted, helicopter parenting – now known as drone parenting – increases risk in the long run. Kids whose parents monitored all of their online activity, including texts, eventually exhibit riskier online behavior. And through their peer groups, they likely have the collective knowledge to make their technology capable of doing things you would never imagine.

With 74% of kids now having smartphones, putting smart technology use in perspective for kids is even more critical because they may be using channels that are not familiar to you, the parent. For example, texting – which grandparents do all the time – is down among teens, while the use of Instagram and Snapchat is up. What do you know about those apps?

Online safety and safer living require a great deal of common sense – both the common sense you exercise as a parent and the common sense you instill in your children. Step into your children’s digital lives without stepping on them. For example, don’t allow them to have phones and tablets in their bedrooms. Do have family discussions about living in a world that relies more and more on connectivity.

The world has always been an exhilarating place even though its context always changes. As the parents of two technologically adept children, my wife and I can relate to every concern any parent would have. As an IT professional, I make it a point to stay on top of every development and how it affects my family. So, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us with any questions or concerns. Together, we can help your children stay safe online and learn the lessons that will help them avoid high-tech landmines.