Every time I left the house as a teen, the same words would echo in my ears with a smile as I was sent off into the evening, "Remember your name." My Mom and Dad believed we were representing their family, their name and I've come to realize we were.
My parents did whatever they asked us to do; If they asked us not to swear, they wouldn't. I don't remember them acting out of line ... I dare say they were rather perfect.
I am not as perfect as they were. You will occasionally hear a swear word pop out as I am driving the kids somewhere. Every time this happens I think back to my parents never swearing.
Life has gotten more complicated. Now we not only have our behavior but our online behavior, what about our tweets, posts and screen time?
Just this weekend I watched as a family in a restaurant were letting their teen kids just hang out on their phones. At another table across the room, a couple was on theirs.
We were at a beach club, the sun was setting, there was a breeze, and it was a romantic evening. I wanted to do two things the moment I saw this:
- Go tell the parents to talk to their kids
- Take a picture of them for a presentation
Both of the above would have horrified my family and would have been rude. I chose to do nothing. As we strolled down the beach heading back, we talked about the the kids on their phones at the table. All of us had noticed it.
Screens are banned from the breakfast table. However, newspapers are allowed. Frequently one of us will read an excerpt from something to the others but most of the time we talk. Moses will chant to our Google Home device, "OK Google give me the latest news" just as I will scroll the paper as he is getting dressed, sipping my coffee. We are from different generations. I enjoy tech, but I want them to see me reading the news. I want them to learn the smell of print; I want them to enjoy bookstores. Kids mimic us! We can't just ask them to use appropriate behavior; we need to model it.
I love my phone, my computer, my devices. Last night Apple depicted a world going crazy without the net in a video to open their WWDC event. It was brilliant, and I thought, yes exactly... I don't want to go without, but I certainly want my kids to have the survival skills to live without the internet. I want them to be critical of their behavior, to question things constantly.
Watch yourselves, Moms, and Dads, because I promise, your kids are.
I have a daughter in her twenties, and she is already a different generation to my teens, and I see it. How about your kids? Do you have examples of how the internet has changed from one child to another? Have you always been a good example? Do you maybe need to shift your habits, your screen time?
—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife