I have been thinking about the growing technologies and the equally growing changes in social behavior. I started thinking pretty hard on it when Facebook was thinking about letting children under the age of 13 join the social network, and all the “noise” about it in the news.
The arguments seemed to be mostly about how much time children spend outside vs. inside with all the modern gadgets and gizmos. I wondered if this was a fair way to argue when most of those arguing had Facebook accounts, and never mentioned how much time they spend outside.
A lot has changed since I was a child. Some of the changes have been for the good of mankind, others – I am not so sure…
I have fond memories of being in a “neighborhood”. I remember when the social forum was the front porch. I remember when children were outdoors playing, from early in the day until mother called them in for supper. I remember when people talked face to face, and when you only had a photo of yourself if someone else took it. I remember when the phone stayed in the house unless you unplugged it. I remember when there was one television in households and families not only ate together, but watched television together.
Today, there are radical differences in social behavior.
Today you can meet someone on the computer, and break up with them on the computer. You can be “friends” with people you don’t even know, let alone have ever seen. You can carry your phone with you and talk on it everywhere you go, including sharing your half of the conversation with everyone else in the room. You can take pictures of yourself and upload them directly to your social network in hopes that someone in the virtual world cares enough to comment on it or “like” it. Today young children get their own televisions in an effort to curb the madness of selecting who gets the remote to choose through the hundreds of channels that are available.
I began to think of what social behavior will look like for my grandchildren… since social behavior goes hand in hand with relationships; I am a bit concerned over what that future could look like.I was researching some things about this subject, when I came across a book: The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption.
“The modern human animal spends upwards of 11 hours out of every 24 in a state of constant consumption. Not eating, but gorging on information ceaselessy spewed out from the screens and speakers we hold dear. Just as we have grown morbidly obese on sugar, fat, and flour – so, too, have we become gluttons for texts, instant messages, emails, RSS feeds, downloads, videos, status updates, and tweets.”
It was an interesting read…
Raising children is hard work. Teaching them is a daily exercise, in which they learn, not just from what you say, but by what they see you do. Feeding them requires knowledge of the basic essentials of a healthy diet. Playing with them or interacting with them by way of sports/exercise is very important.
I want my child to grow up believing that a Friend is someone to talk to, share adventures with, to play with. I want her to grow up believing that a Friend is someone who “has your back”, helps you when you are in need, walks with you through thick and thin, laughs with you and cries with you. I don’t want my child growing up thinking a Friend is one of many virtual relationships.
I think that before decisions can be made about how we let our children socially network online, society needs to become more cognizant of the implications of information overload and take a hard look at where all this connectivity is headed.