Children and Technology – should we even try to stop it? 2.Part
Today’s generation of parents (especially those who already have older children and teenagers) still had a childhood with cassettes, walkmans, televisions with only three channels and telephone booths. The first computers of that time cannot be compared with what we have today.
In her book “medienmündig” (Media literate) Paula Bleckmann mentions the term “digital natives”. This term makes our children “digital natives”, connoisseurs and experts of the digital world. We adults, on the other hand, become “ignorant immigrants” who do not have much (or nothing) to say. (p.158, Medienmündig with Paula Bleckmann)
As we saw in the last article, this reality is also a reason why many parents are happy about their offspring when they see how competent they are in the field of electronic media. Why they are happy when daycare centers and lower schools are equipped with tablets and computers. Why they send their children into the world of large media traffic without protection or guidance.
But as speaker Angela Indermaur explained to us very impressively in a lecture, it is about more than competence.
Not media competence but media literacy
Let us look again at the meaning of the term “maturity”:
“Maturity is the “state after the completion of a development. As long as the child or adolescent is too young to reflect on his or her long-term goals and needs and to take them into account, too young to recognize possible disadvantages or threats to his or her development, he or she is placed under the protection of an adult who stands up for and represents him or her. p. 33, in the book “Medienmündig” by Paula Bleckmann.
Therefore, Angela Indermaur explained to us, it is our task as parents, educators and teachers to lead our children into this media literacy, and this step by step.
Maturity takes time. As mentioned in the last article, we will not let an 8-year-old drive a car, even if we knew he had the competence to drive a car. We would be aware that an 8-year-old child lacks the necessary human maturity to move responsibly in road traffic.
We would only let this child behind the wheel from the minimum age, with a driving instructor and a learner’s permit. Then we would first practice steering, accelerating and braking, parking and starting up on the mountain.
We all know that a distinction is made between competence and maturity in this area.
In order to grow up to this maturity, our children need adults to accompany them on their way to maturity.
We do not need to be professionals in the media for this.
It does not matter whether we are “ignorant immigrants” in the area of the media world.
But what does this path to the point of maturity look like? How can we support the maturing process of our children?
And how can we parents influence the media world of our children? Do we need iron control? Or do we prefer an attitude that includes a certain freedom?
In his book “Hold on to your kids“, Dr. Gordon Neufeld gives clear and understandable answers to such questions. In the revised version we also find a whole chapter about media in the everyday life of our children.
It describes, among other things, how it is about relationships, or more precisely, about the attachment to our child.
Because an attachment, in which the child feels secure with us, is the essential basis on which a child can grow and mature – and grow into a responsible person.
In the second chapter of his book, page 22, we also find the six ways of attachment explained step by step. It describes how the attachment changes and develops.
- In the first attachment level, the goal is physical closeness. (senses)
- Then the attachment stage of sameness. The child tries to be like the closest caregiver.
- the attaching toddler will lay claim to whoever or whatever it is attached to – mom, dad, teddy bear or little sister. This is the level of belonging and loyalty.
- The fourth type involves the search for significance, the feeling of being important to someone.
- finding closeness through feeling. Through emotional feelings of affection, love and warmth.
- Being known. To feel close to someone is to be close to them. Children who seek this kind of attachment with their parents are reluctant to keep secrets from them because it leads to a loss of closeness.
Ideally, these stages develop in the first 6 years of life, but it can also take much longer. The good news is that development is always possible, even in adulthood!
On this website you can find more about this subject in this article.
In summary, it can be said for these six attachment stages that attachment is the core of the maturation process.
A child who moves at the level of being known in its relationship with its parents will be able to deal with the media world in a very different way than a child who moves at the previous levels.
Imagine a child (or teenager) in its maturing process has been stuck at the attachment level of sameness, and this importance of sameness is evident in dealing with his schoolmates and friends.
Such a child will not have the maturity to critically reflect on how it deals with its access to the media world (see the media tower in the last article). It will simply do what the very persons around the child do with whom it has the strongest attachment – and often these persons are of the same age (with just as little wisdom and self-control as it has itself).
Worse still, the child will use (social) media to satisfy its hunger for attachment. I.e. it will thereby keep its peers close by (1st stage of attachment) and it will strive by all means for equality and belonging. (2nd level of attachment)
This is also the reason why it is so important that we build a deep and safe attachment with our children.
That we are the caregivers who can lead our children into maturity.
Gordon Neufeld describes in the chapter on the digital age:
There is a time and a season for digital social connection. That time is after children are satiated by adult contact. Once the child is full of the food that edifies, desserts are a relatively harmless pleasure. At that point we can afford tob e more relaxed in our control. Likewise with attachment hunger. The worst thing we can do is send the child away from us hungry. Doing so only sets the stage for peer orientation and then fort he pervasive use of digital devices that enable immature young humans to stay in touch with their peers.
Kindle position 5130 from the book “Hold On to Your Kids”.
In other words, Neufeld explains that we cannot protect our children from the media world through iron control. Nor will we be able to lead them into this maturity through control.
This happens through the attachment we build with our children – and maintain. This is the only way they are saturated with “good food” and can easily have a “dessert” without being in danger of using the media world to satisfy their hunger for this bond.
The speaker Angela Indermaur concluded this part with the following words:
“Digital media or social media belong only in the hands of children who are satisfied by attachment.”
The secret lies in the right moment. To truly mature, our children need to be satisfied with what they really need before they have access to things that spoil their appetite for what they really need.
“Until children have been able to engage themselves deeply in real life, the digital world does not offer what they really need.
Worse still, it often hinders them from what they really need, a deep and secure attachment to a caring, adult person.
How do we get satisfied? With chocolate muffins?
We will not give our children unlimited sweets to eat, but give them a dessert only after a nutritious meal.
It’s very similar concerning social media. When children who are not full of attachment, i.e. have not been able to develop a deep and secure attachment to a caring adult person, try to satisfy this hunger through social media, that’s when It becomes dangerous and unhealthy.
In the third part of the lecture the speaker Angela Indermaur took us into everyday life with her 3 teenage children. She gave us insight into the way they successfully dealt with media.
This will be the topic in our next article: How we can shape everyday life with our children in a very practical way.