05 Sep Slice of Life: An Important Reminder #SOL18 #TWTBlog
One of the best things you can do for your child’s transition to college is to put your phone down, so they can put their phone down. If they walk around campus looking down, they will not make connections with the people who are actually around them. Experiencing college is just that, experiencing it. If a student is consistently connecting virtually with people from their past, it makes it difficult for them to be present emotionally and socially. It is time to let them open themselves up to belonging to a new community and making connections independent of you.
These words were shared with the parent group as we prepared to leave our children at college. These words have been on my mind ever since. Not only are these words important when the time arrives for our children to leave us, they may be even more essential when our children are still with us. What are we modeling when we are on our devices all the time? Are we teaching young children to connect with us and each other if we are not truly present when we are with them? Why are we, as a society, so focused on documenting what is happening for others to see rather than experiencing for ourselves what is happening? How much of our communication with our kids is shifting to virtual rather than in the moment? How often do families spend device-free time together? As I think about the advice from my son’s college, I am so thankful I raised my kids without the sophisticated devices we have today. I wasn’t on social media until my kids were teenagers. I did not have a smartphone until they were teenagers. I was not faced with the distractions so many of us are today. In so many ways, I think this may have been a privilege.
As an educator and parent, I need to do a better job articulating the role of technology in school and in life. The pros and the cons of technology. How it is both empowering and limiting. Many schools are trying to partner with parents who are sending elementary students to school with smartwatches so their child can be in constant contact with them. This may sound like a safety measure but think about the message this sends. You need me. You can’t trust those around you. I need you. These messages interfere with the developmental processes of separation and self-efficacy.
Parenting is not easy. Anything that makes it seem easy, is simply not real. We need to feel all the feelings. We need let our kids feel all the feelings. While technology does help us connect in many ways, we cannot mistake the virtual for reality. We need to strike and model a balance for children. Our kids need to see us look up, connect with the world around us, slow down, and be present. We need to make sure our kids don’t mistake the virtual for reality. They should have the same opportunity to truly live a life worth living.
I was thankful for the reminder. It didn’t make saying goodbye any easier but left me filled with joy and anticipation for this next step in his life.