Teens and technology – inseparable but not irreparable

Check out the cartoon in my last post. Doesn’t it make you feel old? I love that email that has gone around a few times that says something like, “When you were your kids’ ages, none of this existed:” followed by a list of technological advances that even our generation can’t imagine living without. The times have assuredly changed, and as a result, our kids don’t learn the same ways we did.

I don’t have to tell you how much time teenagers (and now much younger children) spend on their cell phones, tablets, laptops, and IPods. They don’t watch as much TV as previous generations, but that’s only because they’ve replaced passive watching with gaming, texting, Facebooking, YouTubing, and all of those other nouns that we’ve made into verbs because we do them so much. Because they use all of these devices, oftentimes simultaneously, they have adapted behaviorally. They can now absorb information much more quickly and multi-task all day long without collapsing from exhaustion.

But all of this has come at the cost of truly taking the time to think. That, they struggle with. Instant gratification and teen’s inherent impulsiveness have waged a war on patience, perseverance, and taking the time to work through steps of a process.

When was the last time your older kids worked a challenging puzzle, constructed something that required multiple steps with built-in obstacles, or carried on an in-depth conversation with you that involved the consideration of multiple view points and reflection? I’m not saying it doesn’t happen at all. I’m saying it doesn’t happen enough.

What activities did you enjoy as a teenager and how did they try your patience and teach you to persevere? For me, it was learning to play the guitar, trying to pass physics, and memorizing lines and dance moves for a play. What activities can your kids join that will challenge them to take their time, work through a difficult process, and build character?

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