Local view: Technology speeds kids’ journey to adulthoodTechnology seems to have rocketed our children into virtual adulthood faster than radio first did, then television, then cell phones.
By: Moriah Erickson, for the News Tribune
I thought I was a cool mom. I was kind of young compared to a lot of the other moms, especially having teenagers, and I knew stuff. I wasn’t so far removed from childhood, and certainly from teen-hood, that I was completely out of touch.
Or was I?
Technology seems to have rocketed our children into virtual adulthood faster than radio first did, then television, then cell phones. I think back to what I was doing with my free time when I was 13: playing volleyball, singing along with the radio, calling people on the (rotary) phone just to talk. When I compare that to the activities today’s teens are embarking on — including social media, text messaging, online gaming, etc. — I see how quickly things change.
But have things changed for the better? I send out a mass text to my four teens when supper is ready rather than yelling out the back door, as my mother did. I send them reminders about the chores they need to do before they run off with their friends. So convenience-wise, yes, technology has made things easier.
It also has made things harder. Like having an actual face-to-face conversation. And spelling. And paying attention in class. If I would have had the Internet in my pocket and the ability to do all the things today’s kids can do with it, all control would have been lost. I would have been texting my friends in class instead of passing notes. I would have been flirting with boys online, where I could be smart and sassy instead of gawky and awkward, as I was in person. Social media? I would have been all over that.
Luckily, my folks didn’t even get a computer until after I left home. Now it’s a requirement for not just middle school and high school but grade school! And with these computers come great responsibilities. We must, as parents, keep track of what our kids are up to online: who they are talking to, what they are looking at and what they believe. Because as authoritative as everything on the Internet sounds, it’s not all true.
That said, I remember summers spent parked in front of the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System — yes, the first one!) for hours, playing “Castlevania” and “The Legend of Zelda.” Now, my kids have portable DS systems and iPods on which they can not only play games but can take and edit pictures, surf the net and post to Facebook and Twitter.
Comparatively, technology has become more advanced, as expected. And teens have become more the targeted consumers. Twenty years ago, cell phones were reserved for stuffy businessmen. Now they are commonplace. Schools have technology classes that allow explorations of the newest features.
Gone are the days of starving to death on the “Oregon Trail” on the Commodore 64. Hello, iPod, iPad and iPhone. What’s next?
Moriah Erickson is a writer, a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page and a respiratory therapist who lives in Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood with her husband, a self-employed flooring contractor, their voiceless hound dog and their seven children.