I’ve come to realize that beyond the increasing hours of screen time consumed by our children (which I believe is hindering brain development), there are at least three other instances where the advancement of technology is having a detrimental effect on our children!
These examples demonstrate that in some ways reverting back to the old way of doing things, is just as good…if not better.
1. Debit Cards vs. Cash Money
Are you aware of the debit cards that are said to teach children how to manage their money responsibly? These debit cards offer parents control over the money in the account and also allows parents to quickly transfer money to their kids if ever they’re in need.
These debit cards have a purpose! I’m not disputing that…and on some level, I understand why they may be needed. However, since the US dollar remains the primary currency in the United States, I think it’s important that our children know how to use paper (and coin) money.
Unfortunately, many children of today do not know how to handle cash money.
A dear friend of mine wrote a Facebook post about a scene where a young man handed balled up cash to a cashier as payment for an item. He never unraveled it, counted it or confirmed if what he handed her was sufficient to pay for the item.
This is not an isolated incident. Many parents I know have shared their own testimony of witnessing similar behavior in public and even in their own home.
Although children learn about money in school, they do not have the opportunity to use those concepts in practice because very infrequently are children of today presented with the chance to hold cash money in their hands.
We must teach our children how to handle cash money!
If your children earns an allowance, they should be paid in cash.
If your children are gifted with cash, educate them on how the banking system works. Take your child to the bank, open an account, and make a transaction, deposit the cash, ask for cash back, etc.
If we as parents, rely primarily (or even worse, exclusively) on debit cards as the means for conducting monetary transactions with our children we are doing them a huge disservice.
2. Analog Clock vs. Digital Clock
How many of you own an analog clock and have it on display in your home? My guess is that those clocks are primarily for decorative effect and not for its utility. The analog clock requires us to work…to think, to decipher what it means for the short hand to be there and the long hand to be here.
Instead, we use our cell phone to read the time…that digital clock is never too far away, either on our hip or in our purse, so we refer to it instead; even if we wear a watch!
No judgment. I’m right there with you.
However, unlike rotary phones which are almost extinct, analog clocks (and watches) are still in use, whether it be in the form of a fashionable piece on your wrist or a decorative accent in a home or corporate office.
As a result, our children should know how to use them!
Sure, they may learn how to tell time on an analog device in first grade, but like any muscle which is not utilized consistently begins to atrophy; so does the mind’s ability to tell time, so the skill fades and with it, any confidence of how to tell time.
Consider gifting your children an analog watch this holiday season. Yes, it will force them to use the skills they learned in school and they will be better off for having the experience. Besides, you never know whether they’ll be in a situation where knowing how to read an analog clock will come in handy.
3. Online Communication vs. In-Person Communications
My teenager, who like his cohorts within Generation Z, spends way too much time on his computer communicating with “friends” he met online. This method of communicating…online, to the exclusion of in-person communication is prevalent among Generation Zers.
When “friendships” are forged and flourish primarily behind a computer screen, over time, one’s ability to conduct in-person conversations and build real interpersonal relationships diminishes. The social cues and body language that is visible in an in-person conversation is not the case in online conversations.
Additionally, there is a level of authenticity that is prevalent in face-to-face conversations and interpersonal relationships that can be absent from relationships existing exclusively behind a computer screen.
This online method of communicating and fostering relationships is unlikely to shift in a direction, I would like. However, I think there are things that we as parents can do to assist our children in recognizing the benefits of in-person communications and the need to fully engaged in those conversations and build those interpersonal relationships, whenever possible.
Talk with your child!
Intentionally, create space in your relationship for a time when you can fully engage your child. Consider talking over the dinner table (where no electronics are permitted), or over a board game or simply hang out with them (in their room), when you get home.
Investing time in your relationship with your child yields multiple benefits:
a) they know they are valued,
b) you get to know your kid,
c) they learn how to better communicate in-person to build interpersonal relationships!
The one other thing I recommend for younger children, is that you limit the amount of screen time they consume. It may feel punitive, but they are getting YOU in return. Most young kids prefer to spend time with you than be online.
Online communication, like debit cards and digital clocks, all have their place. I recognize and can appreciate the value each bring to the conversation. But, when technology is used to the exclusion of other methods…our kids lose skills which are not easily retrievable. Let’s not let that happen…
What do you think? Are there other technological advancements which are hindering our children’s development or social skills in some area of life?