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By Shani Schreuder, mom to 3 “doggy kids”, is a Director of i-Evolve, a company dedicated to helping teenagers unfold their futures in meaningful ways. Shani is passionate about the wonders of technology and how the future of work will be different to today.

We hear parents complaining about this all the time: My teen is constantly on their phone, their phone is attached to their hand, they are ‘cyber-connected’ but can’t connect on a “human” level.

The teens on the other hand are saying that their parents are ‘old school’, irritating because they complain and nag about their phones all the time, and don’t understand their lives.

So how do we avoid the struggle (gridlock) and engage with each other to turn it into a positive experience for all?

Research has shown that technology will impact human behaviour in two major ways:

Cognitively:

  • The internet is becoming our external brain, we don’t have to memorise information just be able to navigate it.
  • We will need to become agile and quick-thinking analysts, who have access to collective intelligence.
  • In future, our downfall may be our quick, shallow decision making, rather than in-depth critical thinking.

Emotively:

  • We are replacing our emotions with emoticons.
  • We are ‘hiding’ our true emotions.
  • We can ‘block’ others, rather than deal with conflict in an interpersonal / ‘real life’ manner.
  • We are empowered to decide who we want to engage with and not, allowing us more power and influence in terms of our social networks and interpersonal relationships.

Photo credit: http://www.tkau.org/

Despite our resistance to technology, we also need to realise that the world is always changing. We need to adapt! Forecasters predict that the Technological jump between 2015 and 2035 will be huge, with some elements of our world changing beyond recognition, while others will stay reassuringly (or disappointingly) familiar.

  • Let’s think back to 1995 when we still worked in cubicles and had our desktops. There was no taking work home, touch screen phones or flat screen TVs; people laughed at the idea of reading electronic books, and watching a home movie meant loading a clunky cassette into your VCR.
  • Think 2030. We will be living in a smarter and automated world, think of 3D food printer chefs, robot counsellors, global system architects, black hole researchers etc. Some innovations we might not notice, while others will knock us sideways, changing our lives forever.

Our question is this:  is what we as parents find frustrating (e.g. tablets, smartphones etc.) not actually our teens gearing for the future? And that possibly our role as parents needs to change from policing technology usage to developing our teen’s abilities to use technology in a safe and efficient manner?

Remember: your teen is growing up with technology, it’s all they know.

Take a moment and think about how you think about technology. How can you collaborate rather than berate? How can you learn a new “language” and become more connected with your teen?

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

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