If you care for children, if you have children, we must begin to think about what role we are allowing technology, and more importantly being “connected”, to play in the lives of our children. One question I have started to ask my students is”Do you have the ability to be in private and connected to the internet?” About 90% do. And that scares me. Immensely.
This is the first time in Human history that children are able to have unedited access to the adult world. They have access to things we find funny, to things that scare us, to things that excite us. They have access to all of it. This is, in large part, the Internet. Do we also want to give them private access? Should we even give ourselves private access?
I have been listening to, reading about, and thinking upon the idea of character and emotions and being human for this past year; and something keeps coming up, we need to be around people. I think a key component of this is that, in general, we are much better in public than in private. That whole definition of character as “What we do when no one is looking” does not do justice to what character truly is. Our character, actions, and decisions are different depending upon the context we find ourselves in. We are fluid– not static–creatures. We are humans.
I used to smoke. I tried to quit on several occasions. One of my main problems in those attempts was that I did so again and again on my own. As a solitary, and single at the time, person. In doing so, I always found a cute little way to start smoking again (oh, just on weekends, you could just smoke on weekends…just when you drink, just have a cigarette when you drink, that´ll work out…etc). I was only able to quit when I lived with someone else (my future wife). In part, while my persuading thoughts sounded reasonable to my inner weakness, I knew they would not sound reasonable to anyone else.
Now, imagine a child receiving a SnapChat, or a WhatsApp message (or whatever app they are using that I have not yet heard of), that is highly inappropriate. Now imagine some different scenarios: that child is alone in their room; that child is out among their family (each of which is staring at their own screen); that child is on the publicly displayed family device. I would have to imagine that the child´s response would be different depending on what situation they found themselves in.
Although, why do we put them in any of those situations? Why do we so freely give them access to our world? Why do some of us give them access and block them from content? Do we play the games they play? Do we talk to them about what they see…do we know? These, and others, are some questions I am going to explore in some future posts.