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How To Outwit Your Teenager

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Communicate Or Be Damned!

August 12th, 2009 · No Comments

laptops at the breakfast table

According to an article in The New York Times, technology is being prioritised over family life in many American households.

“Mr. Gude wakes at around 6 a.m. to check his work e-mail and his Facebook and Twitter accounts. The two boys, Cole and Erik, start each morning with text messages, video games and Facebook.”

As I read the article it made me feel better about my own family situation. There are clearly degrees of communication breakdown and compared with some families we’re doing OK. Everything’s relative.

I have become increasingly concerned that my boys spend more time ‘talking’ to their friends via Facebook, My Space and msn messenger, than chatting with their parents at the end of a school day. The first thing they do when they get home from school (once they’ve emptied the fridge) is log on to the internet or tune in to their ipods. But in the morning they read the newspapers (albeit the sports section only) and they still will take the time to inform me of major exciting news that occurred at school that day – even if it sometimes takes my 15-year-old three days to remember to tell me.

Both boys have laptops, bought for them for educational purposes. Those laptops provide them with access to the rest of the world and an extraordinary amount of information and learning. At least that’s the theory.
The reality is that the technology connects them to their peers in a way that my generation could never have envisaged, given that computers weren’t even around when I was a teenager.

My boys are way too tired to log on before school, as many American families are apparently experiencing. They can barely keep their eyes open as I attempt to shovel food into them to lift their energy levels ahead of a full day of learning.

I’m generally the culprit with the Blackberry at the breakfast table, although I only focus on it when I’m eating alone, or before the boys drag themselves out of bed. During our indulgent lazy Sunday morning breakfasts, I have had to ask my husband to put his laptop away as he attempts to catch up on the day’s news while tucking into bacon and eggs. I’m conscious of the fact that if they see us do it, they’ll think it’s OK to do it too.

Traditional family communication is definitely in danger of being usurped by compelling technology. It’s up to parents to insist on technology-free time if you want to continue to have a relationship of meaning with your teenager. But you can’t be a hypocrite. There’s no point telling your teen to put away his ipod touch, if you can reach your Blackberry without leaving your chair.

Tags: Education · Parental Bonding · Relationships · Rules · Technology

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