Living Life & Learning!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Technology Use and Kids

An argument can be made that technology can be seen as an escape for many — it allows people to “feel connected” to the world, while hardly interacting with it. It gives a semblance of being a part of society while really just fish bowling into it.
We have generations of young adults now who believe that they have “communities” which are actually just “networks.” I find this fascinating. But I believe that individuals who went to preschool and elementary school have been damaged in such a way as to be disconnected from their true selves. They were forced to give up thought for the self to accept taking care of the greater good – at such a formative age developmentally that they do not even know the travesty that was wrought upon them.
I’d like to believe that most radically unschooled kids will not fall victim to this new world view – not because of their exposure to technology and the networks, but because they have been raised to know their TRUTH and what truly makes them happy. (** which is why I say there is a time limit on getting to radical unschooling if you’re headed there, because those formative years and agency within them is critical to reaping the benefits as kids get older) Radically Unschooled kids have experienced connected relationships throughout their young lives and they do not seek escapism from these media, they use much of it as a fun place to learn. They have not been sold a damaged idea of personal relationships that demands parity across many “friends”, while serving no one person in a fulfilling way. (especially for those introverts among us)
Maybe we, who allow for unlimited media use and who sit alongside our children as they explore, see these media as a meandering microcosm of societal and historical data that informs much of our kids’ learning – while not ignoring the personal and physical interactions of real life that kids need to grow into healthy adults. We are parents who normalize the experiences our kids have in technology and give context to the ideas, thoughts and mores seen there. In essence we not only create proponents of tech, we create superior cynics of that which is pedaled on line.
This dance is not available to everyone (even in the unschooling space) – not certainly to those parents who disparage the idea of technology as valuable to learning or fun. And for most conventional parents, who are already disconnected from their children because of life choices (work, school, convention or some other dogma that believes there is more value in some other mode of learning), the idea of unlimited technology causing them fear may be warranted.
In the end, as with everything in the unschooling realm, it all comes down to PARENTAL DESCHOOLING which requires parents to really look at WHY they feel so strongly about some idea (whatever it is) and to break it down into digestible chunks. Our job as unschooling parents is THIS — Deschooling Ourselves. Whether through that process, they decide to allow unlimited technology use, or some hybrid style, the key is to recognize whether our (parent’s) agenda is affecting our children’s authentic ability to choose and discern over time. If we honestly believe we are tempering our agenda (biases, values) to allow our kids to honestly get to their own choices, values based on their personal needs then we are getting close to where our family needs to be. Dogma of any kind has its affect on our children, I choose not to hand lots of dogma down to my kids in order to allow them to develop their own compasses.
For me, that meant really understanding whether I truly believed that one way of learning was somehow more valuable than another. After sitting with this idea for a while, I came to the conclusion that learning is something that happens as a side-affect of doing things we love. My kids don’t play on technology to LEARN. They play on technology because it offers a near limitless opportunity for them to investigate, research, laugh, challenge themselves, seek guidance and to create avatars/personalities, and as a result of those activities, they happen to get all that schoolish learning that schools spend years drilling kids to hopefully be able to regurgitate on a test. My kids do not find any of that learning drudgery and I don’t think they really even know that they are learning all the stuff they are learning – because it’s just part of their whole beings now. Their insights are mature, their ability to identify and discern amongst marketing tactics and scams and other “ills” of the internet is almost more mature than my own. And I get to see all of this learning first hand because I choose NOT to judge how they spend their time. That’s really all it is. No judgement, and lots of opportunities to do interesting things.