In a previous article I had asked "if the internet was making our kids dumber?" I intended to simply ask if anyone else thought that the endless barrage of tablets, cell phones, and portable media devices had somehow shortened our kids' grasp on reality; moreover, had it any effect on their creativity. Several other ideas popped into my head and I continue with this:
It's hard to find opportunities to expand our children's mind. Many of us "old" people reminisce about being "forced" to play outside, carry around Walkman's and trading tapes, and most of all, using our imaginations. I'm not saying that this is common but here's what I notice:
Let's make two groups. One will be a "control group" of children that are raised with appropriate "boundaries" who are allowed to play a video game or two AFTER their work is done and has one working parent. Another group will be children of families in which both parents work full-time and their "spare" time is filled without an internal or external locus of control (Google it), we'll call them the "moderns". Finally, a group of children raised by wolves, for conversations sake. These will be the "Tarzan and Jane"s.
In regards to environmental adaptability who do you think has the advantage?
- The control group has a "healthy" dose of reality sprinkled with "fun" and may recognize the abnormality of a stranger in a mall carrying a gun. At the least he/she may recognize that it is out of place. These are the kind of kids that may "tattle" a lot. Their version of adapting to a "change" in their environment (mommy said guns are bad) is to alert the parent to the change.
- The "moderns" spend most of their time in an augmented reality where people aren't injured in car crashes and they are in control of the majority of the environments in which they interact. To these children there may be a common belief that a gun makes a fantastic sound when fired and the bullet always hits its target and stops. These kids are typically the ones that show your kids their daddy's gun that he thought was hidden in the closet and winds up shooting your kid in the chest because he/she "didn't know it was loaded." True story. Ultimately, they failed to adapt to the change in environment because they believe that they are in control of it.
- Finally, the children raised by wolves. The children in this group live in an ever-changing environment whose only reliability comes in the form of possessions. "What is mine IS mine unless someone tries to take it in which case I will respond with like violence." These are the children raised with no comprehension of socially acceptable standards or moral order. They typically steal because they don't believe it's wrong or hurt others if they want something because they believe it's "what you do to survive". This group's adaptability is limited by how they've been raised.
Within each group the behavior exhibited is "acceptable" because they're all the same. If put in their own bubbles the first group would most likely moderate their own lives against the standards that eventually emerge among them. The "moderns" would take longer to adapt to their environments because they would continue to live in disbelief that the events that unfold as a repercussion to the actions against them are "real", i.e. everything is a simulator to them. Don't we get to re-spawn? This group would most likely kill one-another off first since the third group would establish a hierarchy similar to that of a canine or animal kingdom. This final group also accepts the changes occurring within their environments and believes that they can control them hence, "I will fire this gun and it will kill my target". Again, the locus of control here is skewed but not missing completely.
The problem is that our children operate across all three versions of realities and interact on multiple levels with their peers. This means that we must make certain efforts to teach our children about some things we take for granted as "common knowledge". Playing with guns, one of my favorite examples, is a PRIME example of things that take a little more than common sense, especially when it comes to educating children whose cognitive thought process aren't completely developed before the age of thirteen! (give or take a few years based on sex and environment) Re-read the examples above and think if you know or knew anyone that could have fit into them when YOU were growing up. Do you think that with all of the new distractions from technology that it is any easier to learn them? Or teach them? We need to make sure that, as parents, we pay particular attention to the behavior that we are modeling, the attitudes we display when we are presented with situations, and especially careful with the tone and content of the words that come out of our mouths. Trust me, I'm a huge "carry a gun, shoot a bear, eat the bones" promoter BUT, that kind of attitude will produce ineffective and mal-adaptive young adults which produces idiots in adulthood.
If you are a military member, think of how much time you have to "teach" your children. Now, subtract the time you spend in training, deployments, long work days, and ask yourself if you have enough time NOW? Check back tomorrow for part 2 where I'll connect the question "is the internet making our kids dumber" to "being a GREAT dad"!
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