Parenting today is a completely different ball game to parenting 20 years ago. Today we have the advance of the technological era in the mix: Snap chatting, Instagram, Musical.ly, Facebook and many more social media influences in our children’s lives that are literally there and accessible 24/7, with messages popping up every few minutes tempting them to engage.
I am a mother and teacher. In the last few years and progressively more today, I can see and feel the pressures and imposition of technology and the way it is being used by our next generation.
Yes, children need to move with the times and keep up with their education, be computer savvy, know how to update, research and produce assessments, however, this does not mean that they should lose their playfulness, lightness, ability to have a real face to face conversation and know they are a gem of a child. I see the loss of all of the above happening across the board with children because of their absorption into the social media world.
I remember in university how one educator shared the idea of the ‘television’ being the uninvited guest into our homes, and how our lounge rooms all faced towards this one uninvited guest. This point stayed with me and I began to realise the intrusiveness of this set-up and what we were inviting into our living rooms.
So from this presented point, I have since designed my living areas to not face the TV, but to face each other. The point of my sharing this with you is that back then it was a shock to me that I had chosen to be part of inviting this uninvited guest into my home each day, just through the way I set the furniture around, setting people up to face the TV and not each other… so you can imagine the shock when I became aware of just how disconnected our young are through the way they are engaging in technology and social media. It is filtering into every facet of their lives and is sold to them as the ‘way of connecting’.
Is the social media world today a reflection of our disconnection within humanity or is our disconnection in humanity a reflection of the much reduced level of connection we are accepting today from our participation in the social media world?
As a parent and teacher, I see and feel…
- Children (as young as 8 through to teens) learning that connecting with people is through typing on a phone or on social media. No longer are many kids confident to have chats together and connect through play, call each other up, or meet up just to be around each other.
- Children relying on their phones like they are a safety blanket. It is disturbing to speak to children and hear how anxious they feel without their phone or how it feels like a family member has left them when they don’t have it.
- Children being ‘acceptably’ bullied by other children and even accessed inappropriately by unknown people through social media sites… and the children, or their parents, not doing anything about it because the children want to be part of that communication and don’t want to lose what they think is connection.
- Children being sold the belief that they will be out of the social circles at school or in their friendship groups if they haven’t kept up with the chats that have gone on during the evenings.
- Children spending more time on devices rather than just being allowed to be children or being lovingly interacted with. Children being given phones, iPads, Xboxes etc. to play on in their bedrooms, in their lounge rooms, in the car, when mum or dad need quiet or space or are busy. Is it any wonder that when they become pre-teen or teens that their devices and social media become their world and their attitude towards the adults around them is then a reflection of the previous years of lack of true connection?
- Children without their natural confidence and truly joyful smiles and laughs on their faces.
In a nutshell, a lot of children are becoming more familiar with the virtual or social media world and are losing their beautiful way of naturally engaging and relating to others.
We all, each and every adult on this planet, have a responsibility to connect fully to children so they know what true connection is, so they can then bring that to the social media sites if they so choose, but not because they need to or feel less without it.
Parenting for me today is about connecting to, living from and parenting from my deep inner wisdom.
It is with deep thanks and appreciation to Serge Benhayon, the presentations of Universal Medicine and my being willing and open, that I have over the years implemented self-care tools that today allow me to stand in and live, without perfection, the wisdom within. Meaning, I know I have all the answers inside of me; I just need to take the responsibility to remain with the clarity of my heart by purposefully caring for my body and from here, parenting becomes simple, even in a world of out-of-control technology and social media stimulations.
Parenting and teaching from my inner-wisdom allows me:
- To confirm the gem and grandness of children to them, highlighting who they truly are instead of it being about what they do.
- To express fully to children, like yesterday sharing with a gorgeous relative of mine how magical it was to watch her dance and play in the shallow waves at the beach as if no one was looking and to appreciate the playfulness that is there.
- To make sitting, chatting, holding, engaging with our eyes part of our everyday communications with each other – and providing the space for children to feel that this is true communication so that it becomes a marker in their body, allowing them to know without doubt when they are, or are not met, with that level of connection. From here they are supported to bring that connection to others.
- To have open and honest chats that explore things, like how certain food makes us feel, certain environments etc., or when we notice if someone in our family is acting different and then to be a supportive enquirer.
- To educate and speak about everything in life, and support children to trust their feelings to equip them with the ability to choose and know that there is a way to honour these feelings.
- To feel comfortable not being the most popular parent or teacher when you feel from the depths of your body that a particular App, or even having a screen phone, is not supportive at the moment. Saying a loving ‘No’ is parenting which can support children to grow up with a deep connection to themselves and others.
- To be the loving listening ear when things come up that need discussing or to be shared. Believe me, a lot happens for 10 -13 year olds, much more than when I was that age. Growing up is tough today and when you grow up with engagement and connection, you also see and feel the lack of it around you… and that can be tricky at times.
- To allow kids to practise having responsibility, physically, through household chores, but also with taking responsibility for their actions or way of communicating… and that means that consequences need to be felt and not watered down or glossed over.
- To support children to see and feel that sometimes, if someone doesn’t accept you because you are not participating in the thing they are doing, it is not you they are rejecting, but the fact you are not enjoining them in that unsupportive activity.
- To treat kids as equal, wise, gorgeous, precious and divine beings, knowing that even though our activities or responsibilities may differ, we all bring our own unique flavors and qualities.
- To live and reflect a living way that is true love and true religion in itself, with children being brought up knowing that they are equal Sons of God who can equally keep their light shining bright.
All children grow up. They become our next teachers, doctors, construction workers, health workers, lawyers, social workers and so on… and it is well worth supporting them to be able to truly and comfortably relate to, and care about people, for our future generations are one day going to look up to them for guidance. And if we are open to the divine cycles of reincarnation, it will be us returning to be guided by them.
So what light are we leaving behind for us to return to? Perhaps this is the grander question to consider.
By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education (Major Special Needs, Minor Psychology), Certificate of Early Childhood Education, Complementary Health – Esoteric Practitioner, Student of Counselling Diploma
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Yes, I found this a very interesting point too. How true is it that the way most living rooms are set up to face the TV instead of each other? It is rare these days to enter a house without a TV in their living room, I can feel the difference when there is one and when there isn’t one. Houses without a TV are more inviting, allowing space for people to connect and be present.
Brilliant blog Johanna. It is pretty scary to consider how our young generation is being raised. The points and questions you’ve highlighted here are very much needed. I feel we will be heading down an even more disconnected, dysfunctional and depressed society if we are not willing to see what technology is doing to our children due to the way it is being used. I don’t feel technology is the issue here but the way we are using it that is the problem.
A great blog and sharing the reality what is really going on with children these days and how we can support them by our example to connect with each other and have meaningful conversations that are needed and not to switch off with TV, I pads,computers and games instead of being together and communicating, honestly valuing each other and simply having fun being who we are with a knowing of that from inside ourselves, honouring all we feel and expressing it. A real reflection and inspiration so different from what is offered out there. Truth and love can always be felt and so can what is not in reality.
I agree Jane. In some schools there is a areal issue with mobile phones and students who are totally distracted by them during lessons. We as adults are also so distracted by our phones, I see people crossing the road and not bother to look up because they are so engrossed by what’s on their screen.
I was sitting in traffic yesterday and I saw a man carrying a box that had a TV screen inside. It was enormous. Our TV screens are getting bigger and bigger, and the time we spend looking at all the other screens we now have in our homes is increasing.
Indeed Monica, we have to be honest and admit that as adults we have encouraged and allowed our children to be raised by screens and to not see it only as a tendency in our society. We all individually have in one way or another contributed to the current state of the world but that said als gives us the power to change it simply to choose to live otherwise and to not accept anymore the ingrained influences we have allowed technology to have in our social connections with one another.
“So what light are we leaving behind for us to return to? Perhaps this is the grander question to consider.” I like this question Johanna, as to me makes so much sense to look at our lives in that way. It stops us from making life limited to only this physical life and engages the inner connection with that grander whole we are part of. Living in this way we will not allow our children to become anything less, but will support them to the best of our ability to remain with that inner quality they all are born with.
The practicality of this article is very supportive to us all as it offers a realistic view on what we are all bombarded with but offers us a choice to choose what feels connective and support for all.
“Parenting and teaching from my inner-wisdom allows me:….” – to be so very real, and so very true. Love the way you parent Johanna, it’s inspiring to read all your points.. and even greater for those kids to be parented by you : )
If children see adults around them who have a loving and solid relationship within themselves, which is then reflected in connections with all others, then at least children have a choice as to which role model they choose.
How connected are we as adults – to ourselves and to others?
It is our role modelling that children model.
Observing the relationship between teenagers, their mobile phones and their investment in getting likes or not on social media is very disheartening to watch.
Computers weren’t around when I was a child, we wrote letters back home from boarding school, blue folded airmails. I can’t remember what I wrote, but my holiday friends were only seen on holiday, we didn’t communicate during the rest of the year. It is very different now, we have ‘friends’ all over the world and we share our lives publicly or not, but how much of that is true communication?
They were great those blue filed airmails I used to use them all the time, now they were a good invention. I often wonder how much damage technology is doing to kids especially when parents are not regulating how much time they spend on devices and are not censoring what they are allowed to play or view.
It is shocking to see how many children are losing their natural lightness, playfulness and creativity due to spending increasing times behind a screen of one sort or another and that we as a society are allowing this alarming trend as being normal – what kind of adults will they grow up to be in the next generation?
It’s very sad that children find it so difficult to connect on a personal level due to the over-reliance on their phones and computers to give them the illusion of connection. We are responsible for leading the way for them back to true connection and relationship.
The list that wrote of what you see as a parent and teacher with children interacting with social media, pretty much applies to how adults are interacting with social media as well. This is a global issue facing us all.
Beautifully said Johanna ‘So what light are we leaving behind for us to return to?’ Brining in the true responsibility, living the truth that we will all come back to do it again until we live responsibly. What footprints will we leave behind with our children by not stepping up to true parenting and bringing love, connection and truth.
Lovely to feel how you claim the space to allow children to feel what true communication is – unless all children have an opportunity to do this we are heading for a deeply divided and chaotic future.
We are role models as adults, we are observed and children often follow our example…so what do we role model concerning our lifestyle choices, this a question we need to answer honestly, the whole do as I say not as I do does not work.
When, “someone doesn’t accept you because you are not participating in the thing they are doing, it is not you they are rejecting, but the fact you are not enjoining them in that unsupportive activity” is true confidence.
Kids need to be supported to stay connected with their clairsentience so they do not loose it under the pressure of the school system which is demanding of them to conform instead of be with their natural spherical self.
Stopping by a coffee shop on my way home to grab a bottle of water, I overheard a group of young girls who were hanging out there, all on their phones and showing each other pictures from snapchat. Everything about them was dominated and determined by the influence of technology and social media – their clothes, their choice of words and even in the tone of their voice – they were not full of life, vitality and expressing who they really are and their own individual spark, but the almost cliché of their generation which diminishes people to being no more than the number of likes on a photo
From observation, most children seem to pick up how to use technology very quickly, even young toddlers are known for using smart phones. I know how I feel after being on my phone for too long, so it must be a big sensory experience for someone who is quite young.
‘Saying a loving ‘No’ is parenting which can support children to grow up with a deep connection to themselves and others.’ Setting boundaries by saying a loving no gives so much confidence and safety for children, much more than just allowing everything to happen because we don’t know how to handle things otherwise and take the easy route.
All I know is that I as the adult have an enormous responsibility to curb my usage of devices and really inspire my daughter on how technology can be used. This is a major work in progress.,
This is great Vanessa, we can all use technology without abusing it and then like you say others including your daughter can get a needed reflection even when it is a work in progress as most do not even understand the real issue around True expression.
An eye opener for me – how the uninvited guest (the TV) sits as the focus point in most rooms – rather than the rooms being arranged to face people. What a set up to create more disconnection between people as they are unable to connect with each other through their eye, whilst the uninvited guest attracts everyone in.
I love the way as well as highlighting the issues with the way children are parented, you bring it back to” remaining with the clarity of my heart by purposefully caring for my body”. It is not about coming up with a whole lot of rules and demands. But it is very much to do with how we are living ourselves, the connection we are offering and the reflection we are providing.
Johanna – this blog is a one-stop shop in the definitive guide to parenting! There is so much contained here as to support everyone who has kids or who works with them or knows them. Awesome!
Trying to make connections with others through use of social media can only be a superficial form of contact. I heard from someone being devastated because the number of ‘likes’ they had on Facebook and Twitter dropped and with it her self-esteem plummeted. To use social media to plug our empty gap and think we are making real connection is worrying… If the next generation have a warped version of what connection is, what outcome will play out for the following generation?
“What light are we leaving behind for us to return to?” – a great, great question. The ultimate ‘what goes round comes round’.
Yes. I feel those that put the effort in to be aware and support children this life will be supported in the chaos next life.
Thank you for your blog, it’s been very insightful to read. One of the things that struck me about the use of screens and phones by children is they are also cut off from themselves at these times and are not getting familiar with the beautiful little person they are. They are missing out on connection with themselves, which is the most beautiful thing anyone can experience – a life lived from our essence.
Yes I have noticed myself how if I am not careful spending time on computers, the internet or social media can leave me feeling very disconnected from myself and others around me, so it is not difficult to imagine what this must be like for children if they are spending long hours in front of screens. And of course the irony is that the more disconnected you feel, the more you crave something to fill the void and so the cycle continues.
As a kid, I remember having down time either laying on grass or in my room or out on the verandah but down time
today for children is screen time, stimulation, phone time. We have mistakenly taken not moving the body yet having a device in our hand or in front of our eyes as down time.
We can all be caught into this trap pf the uninvited guest being present all the time at any age. I am now in my seventies and no great expert on i phones, computers or social media, but if I am not very care-full I can easily become dependent on my mobile for company, information, as a filler of time in odd moments, as my friend. I spent two days recently without it, and it opened my eyes to how much I was actually narrowing my life, not expanding it. The quality of those days was so much more flowing and spacious, plenty of time to complete tasks without stress or rush, and with deeper focus. Being drawn into that world of technology takes away the liveliness of life, and dulls the senses, We have to be very astute and consciously present to use it wisely.
It is frightening to see what is happening to our children as a result of how technology is being used. It is the responsibility of all of us to show kids that it is safe to put their phones down and converse and be with us.
I agree Elizabeth but is frightening especially as it seems to be a very acceptable norm with very little change insight – hence things may get worse before we all realise the extent of the damage, therefore work to doing something about it. i.e. connecting with kids.
All around me I see children of all ages totally engrossed in a device of some form and their disconnection from the world and what is going on around them is so obvious. I recently spent seven weeks driving down a road which had a secondary school bus stop on it and every school morning there would be three or four teenagers waiting, all with the heads down, staring into their phones and all standing away from the others. It was not only their chosen isolation that was disturbing but also the unnatural bend of their growing necks and the potential for many spinal issues in the future; not a future that I would want for any child.
This is an interesting consequence to observe, that “No longer are many kids confident to have chats together and connect through play, call each other up, or meet up just to be around each other.” If our children withdraw from the world and the world becomes something viewed through and interacted with via a screen, then this disconnection IS going to affect self confidence and the ability to feel naturally at ease when more is required than the ‘shorthand’ that technology fosters.
Firstly I love the title and how it uses the hashtags etc, very clever and relative to how the article is presented. This is a great article and one that sits very true in my eyes. How do we want the world to be and what are we setting up for ourselves by allowing things to just carry on because everyones doing it or because it’s just what happens. I for one am all for allowing and engaging people of all ages to bring things back to basics and the basics are we are all people. In that it’s the person or people first before anything else hits the screen and if we are shown that or that isn’t led in the world then it will be a forgotten art. When it all comes down to it we are all wanting the see the same thing and we can’t allow life to dictate to us how it should be and at this point it’s super important for us to appreciate and engage conversations, real conversations with people, no matter their ages.
Johanna I felt uneasy reading your blog, it bought up a sense of fear in me about the state of the world, society, our community and my own family. It’s like I don’t want that to happen to see and to consider that my daughter could be sucked into that world, a world of screens. Of course you inspire me with the truth of what can be possible, a different way of parents and one that takes a commitment to the quality in which I first live and only then can things be potentially different, perhaps thats the bit that also I can resist as its the bit about true responsibility and how that really does effect the rest of the world.
I really do wonder how the world is going to change in the next 50 years as these screen dependent children grow up, take over industries and become parents themselves. Reading this I got a very strong message of my responsibility to share the connection I have to my inner wisdom.
This is a great question, Johanna – “Is the social media world today a reflection of our disconnection within humanity or is our disconnection in humanity a reflection of the much reduced level of connection we are accepting today from our participation in the social media world?” Either way, something needs to change so that we don’t lose touch with how it feels to be loved, cherished and met by a real human being.
Thankyou for sharing the vast change you have seen in parenting and in children over the last few years. The reality is exactly as you have described, our ways of connecting and being confident just being ourselves are being increasingly associated with our web status, and the array of life experience and sensitivity through being together in person is being lost – it shows how as a society we have adopted for a far more mental approach than being from our hearts and bodies.