A recent story in Forbes magazine recounted how a couple traveling abroad were contacted by local authorities and brought to an Internet cafe so they could update their Facebook account. Their friends and relatives in the United States were worried because they hadn’t seen a recent Facebook post, and they had alerted local authorities thinking the couple had been kidnapped or had died.
This story raises a good question about the expectations we have of one another for “constant digital noise” in order to feel secure.
It also made me think about our parenting strategies today. Is being tethered to children via texting and social media making them more secure?
Mary Lisa Patton, BA, CADCI, works with children and families at Therapeutic Solutions 360 in Roseville. “I have noticed that children are getting mobile phones at a younger age so parents can stay in contact with them,” Patton said. “Unfortunately some parents are using the mobile phone as a way to control their children instead of giving them some freedom and room to develop independently.”
According to Patton, this constant connectivity makes parents and children anxious.
“Constant texting or calling children to inquire about their whereabouts or what they have been doing only heightens this anxiety further. This 'overbearing communication' can break the fragile bond of trust between parent and child; delaying the child's ability to learn to make some responsible choices independent of their parents which is a requirement for healthy development.”
Patton encourages parents to stay connected to their kids but not to the point that pushes them away. Give children some freedom and space to develop independently. If we are not mindful we risk using the mobile phone as a way of being controlling.
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