Kids these days | PostIndependent.com

Kids these days

As a new mom, I’m like a sponge when it comes to information about motherhood. I soak in as much as possible.

Then it’s up to me to wring out all the bad, heavy stuff.

In this digital age, information is all around us. On the Internet, social media, TV, magazines, newspapers, the sides of buses, on cereal boxes, in bathrooms…

There’s really no limit to the outlets.

It’s not always easy to decipher between fact and fiction, so it’s up to us, as savvy content consumers, to be smart about what we read. Especially when it comes to old wives’ tales versus medically accurate material. Just a heads up, a woman can in fact become pregnant when she’s breastfeeding.

That’s just one example of misinformation clouding the Internet.

From breastfeeding to diapering, opinions on how to mother are published on comment threads and mommy blogs without the fact checking that once prevailed in traditional publishing. The lines are blurred if the information has sources or is just hearsay. Internet content is a lot like that telephone game we played as kids. What starts out as a truth can easily become the polar opposite.

Politics are a great example of this.

I often wonder what life will be like for my little one as he grows older. He will never know life before the Internet like my generation, and those before us. We were the encyclopedia and after-school special kids, writing about tree frogs for book reports by reading hard-bound reference materials and learning about the dangers of drugs from TV. Kids today have all that information, and much more, at the tips of their fingers on computers and tablets. Information is power, and it can be used in so many ways.

As a mom, that scares me a bit.

I have several years before electronics become a major part of Will’s life — if I had a choice it would be 18. He’s just a baby, and even life as we know it could dramatically change in the next decade. I never want him to become one of those kids always staring down at his phone or tablet while the world happens around him. By 2025, that might be the norm. Everything will be electric. Maybe by 2050, life will look a lot like that Jetsons cartoon.

I could use a robot for a maid.

This week, CNN’s special report, “#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens,” has shed some light on the Internet and social media, and how it’s affecting the younger generation. According to CNN, “more than 200 eighth graders from across the country allowed their social media feeds to be studied by child development experts who partnered with CNN. The study was conducted with eighth graders at eight different schools in six states nationwide, the first large-scale study to analyze what kids actually say to each other on social media and why it matters so deeply to them.”

I already feel like an old fogey reading some of the results.

The Internet and social media behaviors shocked me a bit, including the statistic that some 13-year-olds check social media 100 times a day. Thankfully I’m nowhere close, mostly based on lack of time. That doesn’t mean I don’t have many urges throughout my day to find out what’s happening on Facebook. That’s mostly based on being nosey. I always thought that fit with my career choice of being a reporter. Naturally inquisitive, I like to call it.

But aren’t we all nosey at this point?

As a first-world society, we’re also more reliant on electronics than we admit. I honestly can’t leave the house without my smartphone. Heck, I can hardly go into another room — even the bathroom — without it.

Germs absolutely love that.

I envy my college-aged self who could actually walk to campus without having any idea someone might be trying to call me back at my apartment on the landline. Or that anything, or anyone, would be so pressing I couldn’t deal with it until after a lecture or lab. I wish I knew how much freedom I had back then. Who knows, maybe I did.

I sure had a lot of fun.

In the CNN report, one comment from a 13-year-old from a girl named Gia sums up for me what it’s like to be a kid in the digital age. “I would rather not eat for a week than get my phone taken away. It’s really bad,” she said. “I literally feel like I’m going to die.”

As parents, it’s up to us to teach our kids that’s not going to happen. Even if we feel the same when we leave the house without our phones.

April E. Clark needs to go outside and see the leaves change. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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