I remember when I was 12 or 13 years old, we only had one phone line in the home. If I wanted to talk on the phone I had to wait until my mother finished her conversations and I still had to share that phone line with my sister. I remember that communication with my friends was totally controlled by my mother. She told me when I could and could not talk on the phone; if a friend wanted to talk to me they usually had to go through her first. This meant a certain amount of respect had to be given to my mother; you had to ask her permission to speak to me and if my mother was on the phone we all had to wait until she was done. I had specific hours within which I was allowed to use the phone and if I got in trouble my phone privileges were revoked. Back then I saw my limited communication as an annoyance; I hated having to wait until my mom got off the phone before I could speak to my friends.
Today things are much different; now our children’s communications lines are not so clean cut. Our children have computers at home and at school, they have social networks, cell phones, mp3 players, tablets, netbooks, gaming devices, all of which they can use to communicate with their friends. With each new digital device that hits the market our children have more access to the Internet and the ability to communicate than we could have ever dreamed of.
I talked to few of my friends who are also raising children in this age of unlimited connectivity and we all agreed that it was beneficial that our children have cell phones at an early age. It allowed us to stay more connected to them, know where they were and decrease our parental worry. Now we had the ability to call them at any time, no matter where they were and have instant access to our children. There was a draw back though; our children had friends who also had instant access to them as well.
Here’s the problem, that one phone line we had as kids allowed our parents to know exactly who we were talking to; it also allowed our parents keep track of what was going on with us. In this new age of instant connectivity a boyfriend does not have to worry about calling the house and asking permission to speak to our daughters because they now have direct access to our children via the internet or a mobile device…. The parental factor has almost been totally removed.
There is nothing we can do about technology and how it has changed the way our children communicate; what we can do is ensure we have good relationships with our children, set boundaries around how much access children have to the Internet, and make an effort to get to know our children’s friends. As is always the case with raising children, it is important to set the ground rules early before it is too late. It is your job to pay attention to advancing technologies and stay abreast of them so you can understand how they will affect your children.
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