Digital World, How to Raise Children Without too Much Stress
The digital world, what a carousel! A revolution is underway. And, as such, it doesn’t ask for permission. Proceed, pass and go. And for those who are immersed in it (all of us) there is only one option: accept it and adapt to it—trying to get the best of it, which is not lacking. Children and young people have already understood this. Smart natives, play without problems, with passion and enthusiasm. Without ifs and buts. Which, conversely, infects the world of adults. Of course, the digital world is a new and rather unknown universe. As such, it is scary: there, the young people would comment. Here then is an essay like ” The method for raising children in a digital world“(Newton Compton Editori), signed by the techno-guru Jordan Shapiro, which helps to fill a gap. That terrifies us. Leading us to agitate apocalyptic scenarios. But perhaps we are exaggerating.
Digital world? It is not Armageddon
Plato already taught us that. Disobeying Socrates’ diktat about writing, he put down on paper (or thereabouts) the teachings of his master. Which took into consideration only the oral transmission of knowledge. But who has something to say about the written word today? In reality, Socrates’ perplexities return cyclically in the history of man. They invested in Gutenberg’s invention, the movable type. Which shocked many when they were used to spreading the Holy Bible. And they gradually covered all the media. From the radio, which Hitler and Mussolini used to gain mass consensus, to television, the “bad teacher” for the philosopher Karl Popper. Today it’s the turn of the digital world and its vectors: computers, tablets, and smartphones. Which, objectively, are much more pervasive and all-encompassing than any other tool.
But Shapiro knows that the anxiety is all of the parents, souls tormented by a thousand dilemmas. Many think digital games are ruining their children’s childhood. “By causing neurological damage, impairing vision, triggering an obesity epidemic, causing depression,” etc. Are kids losing “the ability to be introspective ? Does the speed and ease of digital communication prevent them from learning to communicate?”. And what about the 280 – character emoticons and tweets: “Will they affect literacy ?” Not only. Easy access to interactive stimuli “critical thinking ? “. Shapiro’s answer to all these questions is only one: no. It is simply our concerns as mothers and fathers – which the author understands and partly shares – that make us talk like this. There is great confusion under our sky.
So sang Mercedes Sosa and, well before her, Bob Dylan (“Times they are a-changing”, 1964). Everything changes, always. Even more so today, in tow of the technological revolution. Education, play, fun, and dating have changed. And, Shapiro points out, that “childhood is reconfiguring itself ” – with the strength of its absolute plasticity – “to adapt to the new context. The only problem is that adults do not understand this and therefore do not know how to guide their children. sons”. We are facing a crossroads, indeed we are facing “a multidimensional non-linear intersection”. But we don’t have a map, and almost no experience or sufficient knowledge of the “pre-established itineraries”. This is why the author wrote this essay: to provide us with a useful compass to orient us. The first step toward a more peaceful landing is to understand that all games are for children. Video games too. No opposition is sensible. Analog versus digital? An error. If anything, off to the interpenetration of the two worlds.
You learn by playing video games
“Digital games are like all other games”, writes Shapiro, “because, through ritual actions, they reinforce thought patterns and enhance certain neural pathways”. Of course, this does not mean that “they are an adequate replacement for physical activityand practical games”. But they can become “a fit for the 21st century addition to a child’s toy collection.” Video games are ” excellent teachers “, according to the author, because they are “rigorous, reactive, thoughtful and real”. This is why children should be encouraged to practice them (superfluous effort, Mr. Shapiro). Of course, sometimes “they may seem lonely “, emphasizes the author. “But video games also prepare children forreact and respond with criteria to external social stimuli “.
The perception of oneself
The concepts that we summarize in a few lines are very well argued by Shapiro. Take, for example, the way children understand that they are an individual. In psychology, it is called “self-perception”. Which must be in line “with the economic and technological developments of the moment”. If we want to grow healthy, therefore, the perception of ourselves must adapt to the historical period. Today this means immersing oneself in “games, actions, and habits” in the digital world. “I therefore suspect”, continues the author, “that today’s children will find their growth stories in video games. It is through digital games that the transition to the adult world will take place. Connected. “Conclusion of the reasoning:” Do not look at the fixation for games as an escape, but rather as an opportunity for healthy exploration of oneself and others “.
Connected to the world
After all, for Shapiro “being caught does not mean being antisocial”. Today’s kids are “almost always connected to a community “. Which is that of other gamers or social networks. If the virtual is now one of the forms of reality, we cannot deny it to children. Ergo, not only “parents must allow their children to play online”, but they should also learn to play with them. “The psychotherapeutic effect”, in these cases, is guaranteed: it is called joint media engagement and has the value of all the activities carried out with the children. Which raises their self-esteem and strengthens the relationship at the same time effectively. The screens, therefore, do not harm the family. Indeed, if taken from the right side they strengthen it. After all, hasn’t the hearth around which parents and grandparents once told their stories to the children been replaced, in recent times, by television? Now it’s up to the devices.
They are therefore the home of the third millennium. But they are also the sling that projects us directly into the public agora of the web. From the living room of the house to the telematic square is an instant: just a click. “The concern is understandable”, writes Shapiro, “but remember that new technologies always generate new traditions “. The task of the parents is not to revive the good times/games/relationships gone by, but to ” counterbalance the incessant advance of the connected world”. As? Teaching children a ” new ethic “. Good manners can also be applied online. “Now decide what you think is appropriate and draw a line. turn off when we watch a movie together or before going to school and for at least an hour before going to bed only books are allowed, no screens “. Then – we know it – made the law, found the deception.” I’ll be honest, it is a constant struggle “, admits the author. But it is, after all, part of the commitment to be parents. And it is the only way to prevent devices from becoming an all-encompassing reality for the child.
On the other hand, around the “big talk” about addiction to digital media, Shapiro is a denier. Also because “real science does not provide definitive proof “. Social platforms certainly urge the brain to reward centers that release dopamine. Which is the neurotransmitter linked to “pleasure, desire, excitement”. The same one also comes on with sex and alcohol, gambling, and drugs. Scientific studies published in authoritative journals demonstrate this. But for the author the combination is unfair. “If you complain that you were (your kids, editor’s note ) were addicted to behaviors that you consider positive? “, he asks the readers. The answer, even in this case, is a sharp” no “. When we talk about this issue, in the debate around the digital world, we only give” a morally negative judgment . The truth is that kids don’t depend on mobile phones. “They use them because they are useful. Indeed, more:” Because they are the new transitional objects . “What does this mean?
The teddy bear 2.0
It means that, just like Linus’ teddy bear or blanket, the devices help children and adolescents “bridge the gap between inner experiences and external reality “. They are therefore a fundamental link in their growth path. If we talk about it using the same terms “with which we describe the abuse of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs”, we are doing “a huge wrong” to our children. “We don’t help them transition to a connected adult life.” We just instill useless anxiety. Misaligning – if we can say so – private and public, family and social, hearth and agora. Are we sure we want this for our children?
An educational experience
Jordan Shapiro’s essay is full of suggestions for teachers as well. One of the most important parts of the work is dedicated to school and its relations with the digital world. But, more than among the desks of a classroom, it is the very analogical life experiences that give the author confirmation of the goodness of your thesis. Demonstrating (to him and all of us) that there should be no dichotomy between virtual and real. Shapiro closes his manual recalling the friendship born between the children of the speakers of a summer symposium in Greece, which he participated in in 2017. Children and young people from all over the world. Who plunged together into the waters of the Aegean. But they shared even your favorite apps and video games. They also did it at the table, disobeying the diktat of their parents. Shapiro writes: “We were concerned that the presence of electronic devices would make our children unsociable .” Instead, it was technology that provided them with a common ground on which to build a friendship. Since then “the kids have been chatting on Skype, playing online video games together and sharing ideas, photos and stories . Here is the new childhood”.