Technology has provided a world stage for young people who wish to solve their problems with violence or unleash prejudice, crudeness and insensitivity. How often have we read of parents who are mourning the death of a child on a Facebook page or some blog site, only to have hordes of young people leave nightmarish hurtful comments. These comments run the gambits of insults to expressions of their glee that someone has died.
Somehow the permanency of death is lost on these young people. Religious belief aside, death ends a person’s existence at this moment in time. Somehow these misguided people believe their death made some huge social difference and they will be remembered for their actions. They do not realize that the sympathy lies with the victims, not the cause. They will be forgotten except by family and friends, remembered through mostly as a vague statement over time of her or him who committed suicide. The sensationalism and the emotion fade over time.
Did anyone realize before these events take place, the potential for these actions? Did anyone put proper attention on the deeper meaning of words posted on the Internet? Did peers ignore, taunt or encourage these young writers to take action? Have young people become inept to discern signs of trouble and take responsibility to notify people of concerns with postings? Or are young people too busy voicing their noisy opinions and actions?
Effective communication becomes lost among the over communication of activities, thoughts, and feelings. Gone are groups sitting around discussing the world, their problems, in favor of sitting on computers, texting on phones or mesmerized by the latest technological game, activity toy. I once passed a young couple in a mall each sharing half of an earphone set so they could listen to something instead of speak and sharing ideas. I could not help, but wonder what the silence between these two said of their relationship.
Many young people do not know how to respond to a request, a directive, a situation or a directive without some sense of logic or order. They spew like volcanoes unable to consider for the moment, the consequences of their words and actions. They unleash their frustrations, anger, prejudices by argument, slurs, cussing, or creating unnecessary drama. Nothing is solved, resolved, but is blown out of proportion, when a simple yes or no, without the drama would have sufficed.
I cannot help but wonder what impact and control parents have on the actions, formed opinions and expressions of these young people. An article by the Henry Kaiser Foundation has found that young people spend an average of average of seven hours and thirty-eight minutes a day online or with some type of media use. More than seven hours a day many young people are unsupervised or have no rules about what are acceptable actions and behaviors.
Is the Internet replacing parents and “normal” social interaction as young people spend hours on MySpace, Messenger, Facebook and other sites? How often have we gone into a restaurant and watched a family all busy on cell phones texting as they “share” a meal? Are we allowing blogs to teach our children values as other misguided people write of their experiences and biased opinions about society, family and self-esteem?
Perhaps we need to examine our priorities with technology. True parenting requires a constant keen eye on children, sacrifice of time and energy to spend quality time parenting, and a realization that our choices fundamentally impact the future of our children. Parents need to realize that if they are giving their children the best of everything, if they are not giving the best of themselves first, what they give their children is nothing because the family and social relationships are deeply flawed.
Although an expectation of having a “Leave it to Beaver” or “Happy Days” family is doomed to failure, a balance can be established. Parents can wean their children’s dependence from technology to shape their development back to themselves IF they are ready to step up to the plate and make the sacrifices necessary. What worse nightmare could a parent experience than to have a child commit some heinous action and realize they didn’t have a clue, or know their child’s capability for such tragic actions?