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Non-digital parents, digital native children

It's not all doom and gloom, after all. Or is it?

Kids no longer play by themselves in the streets of most western cities, lovers spend time copious amounts of time looking at their phone instead of gazing at each other adoringly, emoticons and gifs have replaced emotional exchanges of words. Families and friends, united by devices.

So what? Digital natives have not been left with a huge void in their lives and the non-digital generation should not fear their offspring is going to grow into some mutated half-VR creature.

If anything, there is currently too much choice, a sure source of neurosis. Shall I do this or shall I do that? Go on Twitter or Reddit? Post something on Facebook or Instagram? Actually the latter dilemma has been solved, as you can post on both at the same time.

It is true that parenting is now much harder than it used to be 30 years ago, when the framework of daily life was pretty fixed. There was no escape from the physical confines, so any venturing outside them had to be imaginary or risk a very short existence.

The internet has brought its revolutionary flag and planted right in the middle of a rather sedate social structure, with its predictable rules. Revolutions are messy and test the best of the best, let alone the laggards.

Parts of the internet are terribly ugly, true. Other parts are very interesting and some are downright fascinating. Parents and kids need a new level of communication, that goes beyond snatching mobile phones and banning access.

For once, instead of issuing orders and expecting compliance, a lot of real, face-to-face talking and negotiating is needed. No more 'do as you are told'. Will parents be able to extricate themselves from inherited patterns of thinking and acting? Now that's the real challenge. Just when they thought they could have some peace and quiet after all those turbulent toddler years.




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