I have very mixed feelings when it comes to my children and technology. On the one hand, I believe that they have to be proficient at technology to succeed as entrepreneurs. On the other hand, I want them to exercise their imaginations and learn interpersonal skills that technology can inhibit them from learning.
Let’s talk about cell phones. Here is Brett, our oldest at 15, looking at Jim’s phone. Why does she have her father’s phone? Because my children don’t have them. And do you know what that means? It means they don’t text (although they know how to). Personally, I don’t care for texting. It is a useful tool that I do occasionally employ, but it is for basic passing of information such as “Send me directions” or “What time are we meeting?” or “What do I need to pick up at the store?” It’s better than a phone call when you are passing along information that you need to later refer to.
A big problem that I see is that people are using texting to replace deeper, more meaningful conversations. Texters are having more superficial conversations with a greater number of people. I’m not sure that this is emotionally healthy and I fear that it leads to adults who can’t handle serious conversations without getting completely distracted.
I did a little bit of thinking and came up with the following points.
Positives of Children Texting:
- Instant communication provides quick check ins even in noisy situations
- Unlike phone calls, provides a written reminder – e.g. “Be home by 6:45”
Negatives of children texting:
- Instant communication causes children to say (or text) things without thinking about the consequences of what they’re saying
- Distracting and decreases ability to focus
- Reduces attention span by providing constant interruptions
- Teachers and education experts report that children’s writing and language skills such as spelling, word choice and writing difficulty are being negatively affected
- You can not communicate tone, which may lead to miscommunication and problems
I think the scariest thing for me is the fact that studies are showing that texting and driving are more dangerous than drinking and driving. The Transportation Research Laboratory in London showed that texting while driving causes reaction times to decrease (35%) three times as much drinking (at the legal limit) reaction times decreased (12%).
For me the issue with technology comes down to the age at which it is introduced. My children will all eventually get cell phones, the question really becomes at what age they get them.
There is a phenomenon that I’ve seen referred to as “modeling down”. It means that things are happening to people at younger and younger ages. It doesn’t just apply to technology, but in this case, as technology becomes cheaper and more commonplace, children are getting their hands on technology at a younger and younger age. The problem of course comes with the fact that while children may be technically proficient with the technology, that does not mean that they are emotionally proficient. Their maturity levels may just not be able to handle technology in a responsible manner.
When my children are given the privilege of cell phones with which they can text, it will come with a lot of limitations.
What about you? What’s your opinion on children texting?