Parents often wonder how we got here? Why does technology feel like it’s SUCH A BATTLE?

I like to remind them there are really 5 things going on. It’s kind of a perfect storm right now.

  • Technology design itself
  • Constantly changing Apps
  • Invisible behavior of your kids online
  • Lack of executive function in your kids’ brains (“Consequences? What’s that?”)
  • Science of brain addiction

As you can see, there are some challenges working against parents right now.

First the technology. 

The underlying technology, the internet, wasn’t designed to be safe. The internet was created by scientists originally so they could share information, share data and research. That’s all. No one could have predicted the world wide web. No one.

Apps change. Fast.

The apps your kids are using change all the time. Gaming companies and social media companies don’t have your kids’ best interest as their priority. Some of the apps make it really hard to see what’s going on, even if you had the time to go through your teen’s phone every night (which I don’t recommend), there are disappearing message options, ways to leave anonymous comments, and so you’d never know if you had seen everything. 

You can’t see what kids are doing online

Your kids behavior online is invisible. Parents can only correct and influence what they can see and know. Until now, that’s been the problem with online behavior–you can’t see it. It’s invisible.You can’t correct what you don’t see happening. 

You know when to speak up when you see your child is hitting another child. You don’t know when to speak up and correct online behavior because it’s invisible.

Executive function

Your kids lack fully formed brains and concepts like paying attention and thinking about the consequences just aren’t entirely there yet.

The science of addiction

There’s science that shows how addiction to pleasure (like social media “likes” or gaming levels) blocks happiness. And in case you didn’t know it, software developers are studying our brains and creating apps that trigger our brain’s reward center.

Technology companies are studying your brain and creating addictive behaviors by rewarding you with followers, likes, delivery of messages just as you’re ready to get off the screen, streaks that push you to post daily or lose your status.

YOU are being programmed.

And if that wasn’t enough… Parenting your “digital natives” has its own set of issues too.

We parents have some challenges too. We don’t have anyone who has parented digital natives before us. There is no generation of parents previous to us who we can turn to. We’re all figuring this out, as the first generation of parents whose kids prefer texting over talking.

I’ve surveyed hundreds of parents and NO ONE feels like they’ve got parenting in the online world all figured out. 

And one more thing, you don’t have time or interest in figure out the latest popular apps and stay on top of it. The apps are always changing and it’s exhausting. At the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is study an app and all the ways it might lead your child to danger.

The Pressure of Being a Teen

Teens have challenges too. They feel pressure to always be online, always available. They feel pressure to be perfect--if they’re not, someone might post a video of them picking their nose that the whole world could see. They feel the pressure to only post the glammed-up life they wish they had, with the ability to see the filtered highlights on social media of what friends and celebrities are doing and compare it to their reality.

So teens carry this potential bullying tool in their pocket 24/7.

Is it any wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed by screens?

What we’ve got here is the perfect storm:

  • technology not designed to protect our kids
  • parents busy and overwhelmed by the enormity of learning all the apps and safety ideas
  • kids who have deeply ingrained habits, some would say addictions, and reward systems that make them crave being online all the time.

When kids are Unlimited + Unfiltered + Unmonitored online, it’s only a matter of time before a Digital Crisis hits.

Next steps:

Go here for a summary of how to keep your kids safe online (Five Circles of Online Safety).

How about you get some support? Book your free assessment call here and we’ll explore where your family’s online safety is right now and outline the first steps toward a safer experience.

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