I stared at the illuminated green screen unsure of what stood in front of me. It looked like a television with a typewriter, but it wasn’t.
The teacher instructed us to type our name. Looking down at the sea of letters and characters, I poked at each key with a single finger eventually spelling my name…K-R-I-S-T-A-L.
This was my first exposure to a computer in third grade. The elementary school had added a mobile unit to house the brand new Apple computers.
These were the infant stages of a new association that blossomed over several years – my relationship with technology.
WWW Sweeps the Globe
In junior high and high school, I had touches with technology mostly from a word processing standpoint. Working on my high school and college newspapers, I used a computer to input and create my assigned articles.
By the end of college in the mid-90s, I had heard wind of this thing called “WWW.” Uh, wwwhaaat?
Say that again.
At my first professional job, I was assigned to attend a training that provided an overview of this “WWW.”
I was curious to why this “WWW” warranted training. Is it that important? The short answer: an overwhelming YES.
Sitting in the training, I learned the “WWW” actually stood for World Wide Web, which “is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet and is commonly referred to as the Web.” (Source: WIKPEDIA)
I was amazed by the Web’s seemingly endless trails of information and resources, and the ability to communicate at lightening speed around the globe.
And, here I thought the fax machine was an incredible invention.
And, boy, have things changed since those early days of WWW in the 1990s and my Apple Computer in the late 1970s.
• There are 2 billion Internet users across the globe.*
• Approximately 5 billion people own cell phones.*
These figures are mindboggling.
That Darn Ping
In moving through my career, technology was indispensable on a minute-by-minute basis for conducting business.
Like most people, technology changed everything about my daily life. And that is no different today.
From the first few minutes my eyes open in the morning, I reach for my iPhone. While driving (hands free), my phone guides me to an unknown destination. When chatting with a friend, I share photos on my phone. I keep in touch with friends and family via social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I build digital photo albums online. I not only manage my blog, but I have a Web site as well.
And the list goes on and on…
And then there’s the ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. The pings of e-mail, text or media messages awaiting attention. Someone needs me.
But do they really need me?
Lost in Translation
So why am I even talking about this relationship with technology? As they say, “it’s me, not you.” Well, really it’s my critical role as a parent of my two young daughters and the relationship they are forming with technology.
In our house, the most commonly heard phrase, besides “I LOVE YOU” is “NO MORE TECHNOLOGY.” My two daughters, age four and eight know exactly what that means…
“Put down the iPod.”
“Turn off the television.”
“Flip off the iPad.”
And, as part of my technology confession, as parents we have not managed digital technology and media in the healthiest of ways. Over the years, we have set a 30-minute a day technology limit. Some days we exceed. Other days, technology isn’t used at all.
The idea of our relationship with digital technology is at the core of a book I’ve just read entitled “Talking Back to Facebook” by James P. Steyer*.
Steyer writes: “The fact is, kids are thrown into this brave new world from the day they’re born. When parents post cute pictures of their babies in adorable outfits and poses, they’re creating the first outlines of their kids’ digital footprint. By the time they’re two, more than 90 percent of all children have an online history.”
I’ll be honest that I only recently began posting photos on Facebook. My primary reservation for not being active on Facebook is the inevitable loss of privacy and protection of my family.
I still tread lightly on Facebook and post rather conservatively. I mostly view Facebook as a third person bystander if you will – enjoying photos and information from friends, family members and fellow bloggers.
But, like my children, I need to set my own limits with technology and be a role model that is PRESENT in the HERE and NOW.
I need to look up at my children more, and down less.
So, I’ve determined what type of relationship I want with technology, but what about my impressionable angels?
Beiber Fever Gone Awry
Last night, my eight-year-old daughter was researching for her book report on Justin Bieber. I sat next to her while she navigated the Web.
I scanned each headline link and graphic to ensure it was age appropriate. Then, I saw a headline consecutively repeated: “Justin Bieber Caught Groping Fan’s Breast.”
I felt my palms sweat and heart beat increase exponentially.
I even tweeted a bit about her obsession with JB.
My daughter idolizes Bieber. Whether the story was true, or not, I had a conversation about her idol and our human flaws.
I also told her that it was not too late to change the topic of her report to another influential person. By the end of the night, we agreed to sleep on it.
In the end, I know it’s not that pressing pinging alert that needs me. It’s my children that need me to guide them along this journey of digital technology.
Steyer explains it this way: “The bottom line is clear. We need to know what’s happening in our kids’ digital lives, talk with them about what they’re seeing and experiencing, and teach them to think critically…we need to limit their access to certain media and technology starting when they’re very young. And we have to stay involved in how they process messages and images as they gain independence.”
So, I guess we’ll find out whether my daughter decides on writing her report about Justin Beiber. I’ve given her my guidance – now the rest is up to her.
For those in Southern California, “Talking Back to Facebook” Author James P. Steyer will offer his common sense guide to raising kids in the digital age.
Thursday, January 31, 6:30 p.m.
St. Mary’s School Aliso Viejo
There is still space available. You can pre-register, or register at the door!
How has your relationship with technology evolved? What are some of your first, impressionable memories of digital technology? As a parent, are you guiding your children along this winding digital journey? Do you have any digital technology confessions you’d like to unload?