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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My nephew was recently telling me about someone at their school. I asked whether he was friends with the person. My nephew’s response was “he has 1,200 likes”. That was his barometer as to what he felt about him. After my initial shock I considered this more deeply – the pressure that social media is applying to the lives of these young people needs to be deeply appreciated and considered. I’m not saying that means we play ball with it – but it is vital that we, as adults, are very understanding and non-judgmental in our approaches to this subject.
It’s not just children that get addicted to the iPhones. The other day I went out and forgot mine and it was a really weird feeling not having it.
I can relate to that too Nicola as I have done too and then stopped to consider walking/driving back to get it, yet when truly connecting to that thought also realising that at that time I really didn’t need to.
It always starts with us. People have lost connection to their true selves and witness the rise in obesity, illness and disease, so called recreational drugs, stimulants etc etc. If we are not connected to ourselves what sort of role models are we and how can we connect to our children?
A good point about the TV. It is the usual design of a living room to be focused around the TV. This sets us up to not communicate with each other. I stopped watching TV many years ago and the quality of all my relationships improved no end. I also felt less depressed instantly. It’s interesting what we choose to do to ourselves under the name of entertainment.
I agree Susan. Each and every screen we choose allows energy to pour into our living environments like water from a tap. It makes absolute sense that we be discerning about who and what we invite into our homes and lives.
This is such an important article Johanna. Your words had me remembering what life was like for me before I began to connect and be at ease with myself. Television was one of the ways I shared my time with others and if we didn’t have TV we had alcohol (sometimes we had both). Back then I didn’t realise that I was missing out on opportunities for truly connected conversations. I no longer have a TV in my house and I no longer drink alcohol but there are still a myriad of distractions that I allow in my life that rob me of the beauty of simply connecting to myself and others.
The importance of realising that our children are the adults of tomorrow becomes even more prominent when we understand that we all reincarnate to become the children of those who have grown up while we are adults.
Teaching children every day I can feel the addictive nature of computer games as they talk about them. I can see and feel how they can’t wait to get home to get back on them again… it also takes up much of their discussion time around, and in lessons too.
Yes, Johanna, we are yet to feel the full consequences of young people growing up in the digital age with a lack of true connection. If young people can’t maintain meaningful and responsible relationships, what are our future parents and workforce going to be like?
Very important questions raised here and so it is super important that the way we live as role models reflect and support that what is needed now and in the future.
Johanna, this is shocking and something that needs to be discussed; ‘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.’ It feels like children are stopping being children, not living their natural lightness, playfulness and joy, this is a huge loss to society.
We can no longer turn our back on the disconnection that is going on in society as it is slowly depleting the lives of not only our children but also our future. When I feel this disconnection in others I will remember that ‘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’.
Perhaps technology keeps everyone caught up in just the human aspect of our selves, forgetting the beingness or the divine that we all innately are, and this is what makes communication, intimacy and tenderness between each other difficult when the devices take prominence over our lives, because essentially what has been forgotten or left behind is the fact of our soul-full light.
“… 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?” If we take on board the truth of this statement, what we are looking at is a huge level of disconnection that is then fostered and multiplied by our current trends. Therefore the way out of this self-perpetuating conundrum is simple, make the effort to connect with our selves and with each other on a direct basis and restore true connection. We have much work to do!
Maybe Johanna, the grander questions lies with the way children share and interact in the class room so rather than a system that is dominated by simply educating, a system where at least one class is where the students listen and express what is going on for them? Maybe we could call this the no phone room or people only room.
The world of social media has limited ability to reflect to our young people their potential, their power and their innate connection to God. This isn’t out there, as all children know this inside, deep down. When social media is used in this way, as a confirmation, as a re-education then yes, it has a purpose. If not, it is nothing but a huge distraction.
There are more kids using social media as a distraction than person, and mainly because they don’t have the understanding of its true purpose. It is us as the adults, our responsibility to reflect the true purpose of social media.
I am so glad that I grew up without devises as I can see how truly evil they are and how they totally suck kids in, I say kids but people in general. Computers were only just being introduced into schools when I was a kid and at the school I went to, the computer monitors were old Tv’s and we had to first learn the binary system before operating them, something of which failed to grab my attention for long. We did go to arcades and play space invaders though, but it was never for that long.
“. . . each and every adult on this planet, has 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.” Great call Johanna as what will happen to our society if we do not truly connect to our children???? I am sure that there will be a time in the future where experts will advice parents to exactly to do this – connect truly deeply to your child.
Thank you Johanna for imparting so much wisdom on how to truly parent our children, especially in this day and age of so much imposing of the internet and social media sites that children are taken over by. I love this last line which gives much to ponder on.” So what light are we leaving behind for us to return to? Perhaps this is the grander question to consider.”
We have a responsibility to parent our young in a way that nurtures them for who they are and not to get distracted and absorbed into a screen.
The best way to parent is to lead by example. So, we adults need to closely examine our usage of screes and social media and the energy in which we go to and come from these activities.
I wonder how much anger this generation stores at being checked-out so much through the use of screens. I have often noticed how aggressive we can feel especially after playing computer games.
Well observed and yes, the aggression plays itself out in the way some of the kids communicate or their actions immediately after playing. I know as I got to watch this with one of my children and the energy that child used to come with after the games was most unpleasant.
Thank you, Johanna. Your summary list of what being a true parent and teacher entails really moved me, because it is how every child deserves to be treated, but this is sadly not the case.
Yes every child deserves to be treated like that, and we did as children too and our parents and everyone before them did as well. Most of us and our generations before did not get this way of being with each other and so there were no or not many role models either that could lead the way. It shows then in the disconnectedness of our society world wide.
I had the same, Elizabeth: hours and hours I spent in front of the t.v. watching films and series. It influenced my quality of sleep and didn’t bring any true joy. Last year August of of sudden it was done and I haven’t watched anything since then. And yes, just like you wrote: ‘I have space in my life to build a deeper connection with myself and to do more fulfilling and more enjoyable things with my time.’
I remember a relative calling the telephone, when it was just introduced, an intruder, for as soon as it would go everyone stopped interacting and run to the phone. I still see this around me with adults and with kids: as soon as the mobile makes a sound everyone wants to know what the message or news is and let’s go of everything else. We fill our own empty feelings up with whatever is on offer on internet. And parents set the standard here by having the screens always at hand even during meals. Children see what we live much more than what we say.
This is so supportive – offering a blueprint for how to parent from our inner wisdom and this is the responsibility of all adults whether they have biological children or not. The pressures that children face with social media etc can feel overwhelming, and not just to them, so it is awesome to have someone at the coal-face sharing how they approach it.
I agree Helen it is very supportive. It is all adults responsibility to parent from our inner wisdom, as we all have this within. The pressures the kids are feeling today really are extremely challenging.
I have to see it is not just the kids these days that are feeling it – my generation also felt it very very much in fact I am sure all generations have felt it – and we did different things to not feel it… these days I guess access to the ‘not feeling it’ and do check out through technology is a very fast and easy way to get to and with growing awareness these days yes we have the option and the responsibility to support our young as we also have the knowhow to observe and see the results this behaviour produces much faster.
It is clear that if we don’t change our way with our devices we will end up with the creation of yet another mental condition as people grow up even less aware of who they truly are and that they do not need the devices to be them. Meeting our children and each other for who we truly are is a not to be glossed over form of responsibility we all have.
In a world where there has never been more digital technology or social media platforms there is a heightened and urgent need for each and every adult to connect fully to children so they know what true connection is. It is a responsibility that can be taken whether the child is within our own family or school or community.
Children no longer communicate with their parents, they learn about life from their friends, and from the Internet
It has always been interesting that the children of immigrants don’t have the accents of their parents but that of their peer group so they clearly learnt from them but the screens and internet seem to be a further step with unknown longterm effects.
I would say not all children do that. In our house communication was always encouraged and part of at least every dinner we had as that was when we sat together and ate and shared and talked. Communication in teenage years was still there too. Now my children,having left home a while back, are both learning to come back and communicate as they have found that here is a source of stillness and that they are listened to and held in a space of love, non judgment and support.
I know of people who think having a TV in their bedroom is a great idea, and some of them actually need to have it on in order to fall asleep, this says a lot about the state of our relationships nowadays, where we have substituted true intimacy with technology – disconnecting from the truth within ourselves.
Thanks Richard. yes warnings may happen along with the hindsight.
I agree Fiona. I only finished school 22 years ago and I can see a huge difference with what teens experience today.
I remember in my mid/late teens and early twenties the stress and loneliness I felt having online friends. Returning to making friends with my inner wisdom and relating to others from there blows all those false friendships out of the atmosphere. This blog for me grounds that responsibility in connecting to others from a true place rather than just superficially via a device.
It is true; these children are our future doctors, nurses, teachers, builders. So, how is living a life of disconnection through the younger years going to impact them in their adult years? We all know that this is not a recipe for true well-being.
It’s scary how much kids have access to social media, but in effect what they are doing is the same as us, almost 2 billion people check Facebook every single day – we are essentially teaching them by example the best way to check out when life gets intense or you need a distraction from something.
I have seen children as young as two unlock an iPad, access you tube and find their favourite videos in the history or favourites. Responsibility is required in how we foster positive use of technology with those who are easily able to access and be absorbed by such technology.
I listened to a child have a tantrum today and I thought of how much more easily I understand the energy of what is occurring since being introduced to the teachings from Universal Medicine. Often we can recoil from a child’s “bad” behaviour and look for a pacifier, and yet we know this is not really what is needed. We in fact do our children a disservice when we are lax with our approach to technology with them, if it has its place then that place can only be within a framework of discipline, for it won’t be the computer games that form the childhood memories, and really what positive development takes place in that distance often dark space online.
The danger is that many teachers and parents feel so overwhelmed in their own lives/jobs/families that the increased availability of technology provides a way to occupy their children and teach them about the world, but what needs to be understood is that the Internet is NOT a safe or reliable method of educating young people due to the enormous presence of lies, abuse and distractions on there.
This blog really set me pondering and I wonder now if in the future we will have to create special classes where we teach kids how to relate to one another on a face to face basis in order to retrieve the downward spiral we are currently on.
Oh Rowena that would be a most sad thing if this came to pass … and how can we teach that in the future if the future is what that brings??
Technology is not going to go away that’s for sure. What the younger generation need is support to handle such intensity. Recently while abroad the people I was having lunch with said that some schools are banning phones when you came into class you put your phone or tablet into a locker and it stayed there all day. Anyone caught having a phone on them would be sent home from school. This seems sensible to me. If there is an emergency then the parents have to ring the school not the child’s phone. And parents and children are supporting the school in this.
It’s scary to think how the next generation will turn out if they hold ‘connection’ on social media more important than true connection with others face to face. Yes, what imprint are we creating for us to return to?
Johanna, thank you for writing this, I observe so much change happening with children in a very short space of time, from children playing out on the street having simple fun to children playing on phones or computers at home or these devices being brought onto the street and activities are then based around these such as Pokemon Go. Having the interaction with this technology feels like a very different way of playing, the innocence and natural playfulness seems to be replaced with a ‘trying to be cool’ and trying to live up to what other children are doing.