My circle of peeps since as far back as me being a kid in Lima, Ohio, and playing heated games of softball in the boulevard after school, have always been a mixture of active and/or intelligent humans with an over-the-top zest for life.
My first FANTASTIC introduction to video games during my childhood, Atari, never pulled my focus away from living in the real world for long each day and why would it? How could it? With the sun shining, the birds singing, bugs biting and bikes to ride, it never dawned on me (even as an introvert) to hide on the couch and jump into digital make-believe for hours at a time.
I reflect on my childhood now when I read the news and when I listen to some of our friends complain of their children’s descent into long periods of digital nothingness. I worry humans are becoming more and more detached from society. I understand the attraction of the digital world because reality is difficult, scary, painful and messy with the rare and perfect sprinkle of fabulous that makes it all worthwhile. But I also understand, as does the scientific community, what happens to humans and animals long-term when live social interaction is significantly diminished: physical and mental health deteriorate.
If you or your children are descending into a nothing abyss via the Internet or video gaming highway, make a resolution to makes some changes. Nothing drastic, it can start with taking a walk each day or pick up the phone and call your Great Grandmother Mildred who is probably cursing you right now because she hasn’t heard from you in 5 years, or get a hamster – http://www.myhamsterzoo.com. What are you waiting for?
Why unsupervised children are allowed to use smartphones (or any internet enabled device for that matter) is baffling to me. I am even more perplexed as to why we often look to manufacturers to place parental controls on these devices.
Leaving a child alone to explore the internet is like setting him or her down in the middle of a city, whose population consists of nothing but the most horrid reflections of humanity, and just walking away so the little ones are all alone to flounder aimlessly among a vat of degenerates. I certainly wouldn’t rely on a third party to try to control this sea of horror.
Unfortunately, for the vulnerable and naive, the Internet harbors a large number of suspect individuals who, for whatever reason, find great pleasure in attempting to destroy others while under the incorrect assumption of complete anonymity. Interacting with such individuals can carry a heavy price as outlined in numerous studies regarding youth and the electronic world (here is one of many examples of such studies: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-teens-phones-happiness-20180123-story.html)
Plenty of smart people succeeded in life well before all of our fancy devices showed up so don’t worry that your child is going to suffer intellectually by having limitations on internet usage.
A few short examples of potential red flags:
- For gaming systems: many have chat features, cameras and microphones built in or they take advantage of cameras and microphones built into television units they connect to. These systems are often a target by degenerates in an attempt to communicate with children. Carefully review the documentation for your gaming system as well as any smart tv the system may be hooked up to so you understand potential points of risk.
- For online games: many have chat features, cameras and microphones built in or they take advantage of cameras and microphones built into the device accessing the online games (pc, laptop, smartphone). Carefully review the features and rules of the online game community before allowing your child to participate while supervised.
Do you really want to give your child the power to broadcast statements to the entire world or to be able to interact with the entire world in ANY way? Adults can’t even handle this power, how can we expect children to even comprehend this type of power and the subsequent repercussions of such power?
Discuss the dangers of the internet world with your children just as you discuss the dangers of the non-internet world with them so they go in with their guard up and monitor their usage so your children can grow up to be fabulous contributors to the world:)