As I held my 6 month old son today in a restaurant and watch him reach for my iPhone that was on the table I came to the realization that technology will play a much bigger role in our relationship than it did with my own father and myself. At the table next to me was a little girl about 7 or 8 that was teaching her dad things on the iPad and it truly amazed me because she was so knowledgeable and he didn’t have a clue.
The thing that really stuck with me all night and inspired me to write this was that there was nothing in the world that I could teach my dad when I was seven years old. He knew everything I did, except maybe the code for contra Up, Down, Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, A, B, A, B, Select, Start which didn’t offer much beyond the world of Nintendo. If I needed help fixing something I waited for my dad to get home from work. A question I had about fishing was answered when him and I were sitting on a bucket at the side of the lake. Having arguments at the lunch table about “my dad said that… ” only to have my opponent’s rebuttal be “My dad said… ” Dad was the guru and I was always so impressed with his knowledge of everything. He could have been making half of it up, or gave his best guess but it was during these times that gained such admiration for him because of things he taught me. Now these play ground arguments are settled by smart phones and the web.
Now a days if a child has a question they don’t wait for dad to get home, and they probably don’t even leave their room, or even open their mouth because there is Google to answer any question they have, and YouTube to show how to fix anything. Why wait hours when the answers are at their fingertips. There is a benefit to this technology in that the kid gets the right answer instead of dad’s best guess, but that opportunity to teach, learn and bond can be in jeopardy.
The technological changes in the way we communicate from when I was an infant to now as a parent is astounding. I can only imagine the technology our children are going to incorporate into their daily lives in 30 years. I couldn’t expect my parents to suddenly learn how to use twitter, text, Facebook, Skype, Pinterest, email, Facetime, and iCloud in an instant. That is why it is so important to be in touch with technology and what is happening. Maybe you don’t use the technology because of your occupation or lifestyle but keep in mind that your children are. They are experimenting and testing new methods of communication all the time and it’s important to be on the same page with them, or in today’s terms on the same screen.
I am not suggesting that you need to take classes at the local college for teenager technology but it’s important to keep in mind that it will be easier to learn slowly even if you are a little behind the curve. You don’t want to be blind to the changes only to find yourself off network when they get older. There may be a paradigm shift in society that has kids teaching grown ups instead, which happens more often today than decades ago. That’s okay because it’s an opportunity to bond and maybe learn new things together, and to explore worlds that are now available with a few clicks that weren’t twenty years ago.
Maybe when my son is seven there may not be too many things I can show him that he can’t find on YouTube. But I know for certain that the one thing I can show him is how much I love him and how important it is for me to understand the world he lives in. Take the time to understand that and it will help you to connect when he does come to you for advice that he can’t find on Wikipedia.
Thanks for listening and please comment if you have any thoughts.