My son and I watched a Frontline episode titles Digital Nation on PBS.org. It seemed appropriate that we played the show on a laptop computer connected to the Internet wirelessly while sitting on the couch in the living room.
He is a digital native (running through the forest naked grunting native) and I am a Digital Immigrant (arrived via airplane not ship). Both of us think we're tech savvy. It is possible that he may be more so than me. I said it is possible, but since I am the Dad it is not likely. ;-)
Back to the show. During and after the program we had really good discussions. I am coming from the "go play in the backyard" childhood and he is living the "have a Macbook, iPhone, Adobe CS4 suite" childhood. Because of our differing childhoods (he is 14+) it was easy for each of us to relate to those people and ideas that represented our beliefs.
I will always be a believer that everything changes and evolves. Change isn't free. There is always a cost associated with it. As we barrel deeper into the 21st Century the changes seem to be coming at us ever quicker and the losses appear to be great.
Often times technology is portrayed as being the demon that is stealing our minds. There are some who will cite that the young people of tomorrow are not reading books, loosing the ability to write cursive, do not have the ability to write whole sentences, have a short attention span, and addicted to technology. Maybe it is really an issue of responsible uses of technology.
Perhaps it is our responsibility, both individually and collectively, to make good decisions. For instance, in my youth reading books was all I wanted to do. I would read one book after another. I was a chain-reader. In fact, according to my mother I would not get enough sleep at night because of this addiction.
I had to learn, as all humans do, to back away from the books! Really, I had to learn to stop reading when it was time to retire for the night. It wasn't the reading that caused my problems, it was the poor decision-making. "Put down the book and go to sleep" can be updated to "turn off the computer and go to sleep!"
So the conversations my son and I had revolved around personal responsibility and good decision-making skills. As a parent it is my responsibility to teach him sound decision-making skills and to take responsibility for them. Those skills apply to all facets of life, not just tech gadget use. We teach our kids to eat healthy, don't smoke, don't drive too fast, do homework before play, and on and on. The common thread in all these themes is to make good decisions.
But what do I know? Watch the program and draw your own conclusions and have your own discussions.
Frontline - Digital Nation on PBS.org