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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Great sharing Johanna.You basically confirm what I already felt: that children as a whole are losing their joy by losing themselves in social media. Like every device, social media can be great way to connect to people, but also be used to disconnect ftom ourselves, so that it brings the opposite: no connection.
Interesting how ‘the uninvited guest’ seems to get so much undivided attention! There is therefore something about the concoction of TV programmes that are far more tantalising than face to face human contact.
From what I see, we often try and protect our children from the worst of the world – we want to keep them safe and oblivious to the reality of life for as long as possible. But with the internet, everyone can get access to some of the most horrific, disturbing and harmful content without having to look further than a quick search on google or Facebook. If we continue to keep silence about these things without a vain attempt to keep them innocent, we are allowing the internet to start the conversation and rarely is it done in a safe, trusting and respectful environment. If we talk to our kids about what a loving and healthy relationship is, explain to them the damage that pornography can have on you and your expectation of love and physical intimacy, that often those in the films are being forced to be there against their will, and you have a mature, adult conversation that is education and gets them thinking. If we allow them to stumble across pornography which in today’s society is an almost guarantee, then what basis do they have to stand on to understand what they are seeing and know it to not be true?
It is concerning to observe how we allow computers, computer games and social media to take over without seeing the long-term impact this has on the quality of our interactions and relationships. I also remember reading about some studies explaining how using devices before sleeping affects our sleep. Being tired alone, will affect the quality of how we speak with others and interact.
Perhaps the smart phone has become some sort of comforter but it turns into evil when children use them for abuse of others. Feeling reassured by how many likes or devastated by the hate speech, both are devastating to the body.
Me too Susan. At 13 I remember enjoying going rolkarskating and building cubbies with the neighbourhood kids on my street. The times when phones had a cord and if you want to speak to someone, you sat by the phone and spoke.
I agree, I was outside all the time and played with my friends… How many children still do that? I can imagine that it is a thin line how parents raise their children. Not being unworldly and being part of the social media, but also staying innocent and connected to their own body and movement. There should be parent forums everywhere where parents, who are interested not going by the usual trend , could go and get input.
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.’ – so true, Johanna. When I was young my friendships with boys sometimes blossomed into something more, naturally and organically from a friendship that I had formed, nurtured and treasured for some time. Today our young teens are looking for relationships on Tinder … why? when they can meet people of their own age through school, youth group, work, sport, gatherings …. it seems like it’s a very different world to how things were when I was young, and the constant use of technology seems to be pulling them further away from their very precious, amazing selves.
We really do need to take responsibility for what is going on with technology. So many kids and adults are totally losing themselves in a checked out state in virtual worlds.
Perhaps not a ‘maybe’ Richard. What you say is so true, we are lead down this false path of thinking that connecting on social media equals a real relationship. What is so amazing though is that there are many young teenagers out there who are realising the negative effects on their well being and quitting the game. An awesome achievement that demonstrates that somewhere inside us is a wisdom that can, when trusted, empower us to retract our selves from these self-destructive behaviours.
‘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.’
I often see how we’ve not done that as adults and then when the children become teenagers the level of irresponsibility we’ve encouraged in them is obvious. Suddenly they’re expected to be responsible and mature and the irresponsibility they reflect back to the adult can be very challenging. Often the adults seem to be at a loss at the disrespectful behaviour, how they didn’t bring up their child to be this way, not realising that doing everything for your child to fulfill a perceived role and need that that is what a parent does if they love their child, isn’t it.
There’s the term helicopter parenting, if I look back on my childhood I cherish the freedom I had to make a lot of my own choices and am appreciative to have been allowed such freedom, and thankfully wasn’t burdened by social media and computers as the games industry was only starting to take hold and didn’t grab my attention. We have a responsibility to determine what is progress and what is just mere technological change, because there is no progress if behaviour and health is lesser and if our relationships have become shallower and less supportive of one another long term.
If we choose to hand our children and young generation over to technology then we have to take absolute responsibility for the consequences. Just one aspect is what actually exists on the Internet; are we willing to see the true insidiousness of the web and the content online? What we are giving children ‘free reign’ to look at and learn from?
When we take a bigger view that the children of today will be the parents, workers etc. of the future, it is well worth fostering them. We all grumble about the state of the world but then stand back and allow screens to raise our kids. There are some great points about how we need to foster our kids to grow into their potential as adults. I would say chatting with them about everything in life and confirming what they sense would be high on my list. With a trust in oneself that what you feel is true, you are well equipped in life.
Not looking constantly at your phone or saying to your child they have limited screen time only might seem impossible and would have horrible empty feelings and exclusion out of friend groups as a result, actually is not as horrible as we might think it is. I relate it to my own experience with not eating a food anymore I got reliant upon to the point of not being able to stop snacking which did not feel supportive, the resistance to stop eating it was massive but when I did actually it was very natural and easy and without an effort, there was more space to do other things and I felt more value in feeling vital than before. Life then turns out to not be all about that one thing we think we need but about something much grander – our joy, love and harmony together.
‘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?’
Last week when presenting a workshop about the influence of Social Media on finding a job, one of the participants commented: ‘what world are we living in? Where is the connecting to each other? Why do we have to pretend that we are always ok on Social Media?’ The look on her face revealed how difficult she finds our current society to live in.
It becomes very clear, with today’s technology and almost everyone having access to everything, the importance of connecting as human beings and to remind ourselves over and over again that it is about us as beings and their well being not about all that we have and could achieve.
Yes, removing ourselves from the world has become easier and easier, increasing the temptation.
Johanna you have presented a very fleshed out and meaty conversation not just on the effects of social media but on parenting. Although people espouse the many benefits of social media, for me it acts like a sledge hammer on the quality of our children’s childhoods and also on our parenting. It’s not just the kids that are needing to check their phones every five minutes but parents as well. Social media has become yet another thing that we feel we need to ‘stay on top of’ and hence it is yet one more thing that has an anxiety producing effect on many of us.
Yes and as adults we accept bullying too, we need to say no to abuse in all aspects of our lives if we want to see true change.
‘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 agree with all of this and am very aware how little time my daughter gets just to be outdoors. We live in London and although surrounded by beautiful parks and greenery for a large city, I feel her exploration in nature is far less than mine was as a child and my best memories are the ones when we were creating adventures / games outside.
I like the term you use here, Johanna, of being a ‘supportive enquirer’ with young people, holding a space for them to just explore who they are and how they feel about things, without having to come up with any solutions.
“I can see and feel the pressures and imposition of technology and the way it is being used by our next generation.” this goes to show the fact that as parents we have a real responsibility in how we care for and raise our children, how we use technology and how we support out children in the depth of connection to the magic of the universe they have and how they deal with all that they feel.
It is now 10 years since my wife and I have had the ‘uninvited guest’ in our home and do not miss it and love the space there is without it.
From my own experience, I know that if I spend too much time on social media sites or watch the TV, I have a feeling of withdrawing from life and I feel lethargic. So it would be no different for children, and it makes sense that the children will become less confident conversing personally face to face with another.
Social media is like an incessant wave that desensitises and denatures us. It is incredibly difficult to use social media with the responsibility of being true to yourself, not changing who you are to fit in, for everything about it is set up to make us cave in to the demands to be liked and so called popular, and yet we all know this is in fact false, for social media offers so much distraction and a never ending supply of news feeds of questionable quality. So what then of our children, what are we setting them up for if this is the norm, parenting becomes crucial and a willingness to raise children who can withstand being different and not consumed by electronic devices.
Very true Fiona, our way forward is not to ban these things, but to show kids how to have a healthy relationship with technology, so that we maximise the best of both worlds: direct, loving and intelligent connection with each other coupled with all the positives that our virtual world provides. Allowing the virtual to dominate without the human connection is where it all begins to slide downhill.
Wow Johanna I love what you have shared in your “Parenting and teaching from my inner-wisdom”. For me that is gold as it shows that parents and also teachers can support a child constructively and lovingly without breaking them or the opposite to coddle them. Instead you offer a way to help them to not loose their inner qualities they already have.
An indepth look at Parenting children and inspiration for those who have young children today. I love your words “Parenting for me today is about connecting to, living from, and parenting from my deep inner wisdom”. This is a big ask but with the support of Universal Medicine and the presentations of Serge Benhayon and the ‘ancient ‘wisdom it can be done.
We have to readjust our parenting to now encompas technology, for if we are not on the front foot of raising our children they will learn about life through the very distorted lens of the online world
Beautifully put Rebecca, the lens is very distorted and unless we are supportive and ahead of the curve our children will become victims of the loveless interface of social media.
Yes, our TV always had a beautiful cloth over it, from when the children were very small til nowadays (they both have moved out now), but the cloth stays and the TV has not been switched on for years now…
I love all the points you raised to be aware of when raising children and this one especially stood out for me as when I was growing up the one thing that was so not ok to talk about or share was how I felt. – “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.
This is such an important point to consider in the all – “And if we are open to the divine cycles of reincarnation, it will be us returning to be guided by them.” With this knowing and understanding, many of our choices with regards to our children as well as ourselves become very important to truly discern them before making them.
It is such a paradigm shift to appreciate our children for who they are and not what they do. This does not mean that there are not consequences or limits and boundaries for behaviour, rather we don’t set up the platform for seeking approval and ‘being good’ instead of being ourselves.
The TV is the uninvited guest in the living room, and the laptop is often the uninvited guest in the bedroom, while the mobile has become our best friend, always there in our pockets, handbags or hands. These devices all have their uses, but when we feel like they’re an extension of our own bodies, that take us further away from ourselves, we need to question what it is we’re trying to distract ourselves from feeling within.
Life a life full of joy and service. There’s no app for that, only movements.
This made me smile Michael and how enjoyable is it to watch the lighthearted playfulness of children playing in nature?
Children are absolutely to be valued for who they are in their natural gorgeous state. Fobbing them off the technology baby-sitters at a young age is cutting them out of their natural development. It’s like giving them a diet of only one food group – there will be some knock on affect and distortion to their well-being later on due to the imbalance. There is enough medical and scientific evidence on how we live and the impact this has on our well-being for us to be able to arrive at this very basic level of awareness – why do we wait till the situation is at a disastrous level before it is even considered that it has all gone too far?
A great blog Johanna, bringing to light a much needed topic of conversation. Yes, technology is a part of our current world and the younger generation are drawn to it like moths to a flame, but it is us their parents who have the responsibility to guide and support them in how to use these devices and encourage open and honest communication around their day and how they are travelling, what is happening for them when they use the devices? Support them to know themselves and be solid in that, and role model healthy connections with your own devices.
It is great when kids get their own responsibility for example by helping in the household. As parents we are not responsible to do everything for our kids, they can do so much themselves and love working together. We don’t need to brush any action that is not responisble aside, with the excuse they are just kids. Every energy we choose has consequences and how great is it to learn about that.
‘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?’ Shockingly today it was brought to my attention that 3 or 4 times a week teens are recording their suicides on social media platforms, which then go viral. If this is becoming normal at what point do we start considering our individual choices and how we contribute to the rot?
There is surely more intensity and pressure for kids growing up today, compared to 20 yrs ago. Social media has not helped, there are more children with high levels or anxiety as they don’t know how to respond to the demands of the world. Due to this there are more kids going into self harm as they are unable to manage these demands.
It is all too easy in this debate to point the finger at the way children are, but children learn from their parents and peers; so what are we not bringing that then encourages them to disappear into their screens?
The simple answer to that Otto, is ‘connection’. We have failed to bring connection to our children. I am now having to re-introduce it in my family, in bite sized pieces after first having re-introduced it with myself. But, I am also having to fight against the forces (and they are considerable) of social media. Thankfully connection is showing signs of rallying and I am buoyed by the changes that I can feel.
And I’ve just remembered another example of this. A young friend of mine once said to me “you have no idea how tough it is to be growing up and making mistakes in public”. Again I deeply considered this. When I was young, if I behaved badly, or made a mistake or did something embarrassing then just a handful of people would know about it. I might wake the next morning, feeling ashamed to see those few people again – even that was horrendous, but imagine doing the same nowadays and seeing your ‘mistake’ going viral on social media.