As we all know we are the first parents to be raising an entire digital Gen where there are no guide books, no maps nor ancient wisdom to rely on.
Whether we like it or not, we accept it or no the digital world is now our children’s first playground. Today’s generation child all he gets to learn is coding. She barely learns to read. Regardless of whether or not we agree on coding as compulsory curriculum, we can all agree that for our children, the digital landscape is now their first play area .
In a recent Indian survey, 81 percent of children between 8-16 said that they are active on social network incidentally, this number is higher than the US and Singapore. It is in this digital playground that our children will make friends, negotiate conflicts and perhaps even discover love.
Technology will offer them vast advantages as they bypass borders, collaborate with people around the world and learn languages of countries that we can’t even place on a map. But it will also make them vulnerable in ways that we, as their parents, are largely equipped to deal with.
Let’s picture this: as the average parent in your thirties or forties, you generally use three to four social media portals like face book , Instagram, snap chat and twitter .And you might have taken a FB quiz to guess your mental age and since you got 22 years you may have excitedly downloaded snapchat to demonstrate how youthful you are.
Now let’s picture this: your kids live on portals that you have never even heard of- yik yak, ask.fm,
secret, whisper have you ever heard of these?
These are wildly popular sites which most pre teens and teens live their daily lives; these are the global playgrounds where romances bloom, hearts break, friendships begin and wars are won and lost. Heard of otakus, yuri and catfish? Those are kinds of people that your kid gets encountered daily.
Walking through the far corners of the internet, meeting new people and exploring unchartered territory can be liberating, even thrilling. Heck, it is every teenagers dream. But sometimes there are monsters in those dark corners.
Kids do sexting, like sharing obscene pictures online which goes viral later, sometimes the images even get morphed to make the images look crazier. And it’s like the Internet follows you everywhere later.
A clinical psychologist says that pre teens and teens are experimenting before they can even understand intimacy and its consequences.
Cyber bullying is a become a major problem which extends beyond India. A popular networking site ask.fm has been linked to teenage suicides globally. A 16 yr old from US recently committed suicide after being the victim of vicious bullying in the site with. Posts including fat, loser, and kill your self already.
There are similar stories from all over the world who faced vicious bullying on ask.fm and went on to kill themselves. ask.fm has caused widespread turmoil in India with many students describing it as toxic and poisonous.
We need to come up with sensible laws to prevent cyber bullying especially for minors since many cyber crimes in India currently exists in regulatory vacuums .Well, this is a step in the right direction but more help is needed before the pandemic affects more children. As adults, we need to push for change in three areas corporate , legal and educational. First we must demand that companies be digitally responsible in the same way that they are ecologically and socially responsible.
But perhaps, most importantly, it’s time for us to start doing homework ourselves and this one is difficult assignment. We are the first parents to be raising an entirely digital generation. And there are no guide books no maps and no ancient wisdom to rely on. This is unprecedented parenting,But we have no choice but to measure up. And with every day that passes, the gap widens we become more out of touch and our kids become more plugged in. We have to fill that gap if we have any hope of supporting our children as their lives may depend on it. The kids aren’t the only ones who need coding classes.
Oh, and here’s another public announcement for you all: if you’ve been hearing your kids say they want to Netflix and chill check out they aren’t about to watch movies!