#throwbackblog By Kenneth Braswell (February 5, 2011)
The 1970’s were an interesting time of social development for pre teens and teenagers. Much like those before us, we grew up being raised to understand several similar themes of behavior. One of which demanded that we were clear in understanding that our conduct reflected our parents and family. How we presented ourselves said everything about how we were being raised. In fact, how we walked, talked and even looked could be traced back generationally along our family lines. Not much has changed; has it?
Transition is part of the generational change. For instance 8-tracks, albums and cassettes to CDs and MP3’s could probably be augured the most noticeable indication of change. During those musical changes of maps to GPS systems, books to nooks and black & white TV to 3D we have watched it all contribute to the cultural change over the last few decades. These advances have also created a wide generation gap. Today there is much to say about the interaction between baby-boomers and the WIFI (x and y) generation.
No area of culture has been more affected by change than parenting. Today, baby boomers and even Gen X parents are laboring about how it was; “back in da day.” It was a time they believed when parenting seemed much more simplistic. Hmmm; that notion can also be argued. Certainly it is much easier now to change a diaper, make formula, prepare food and even take a baby’s temperature. However, there is something to be said about a child being able to play outside until the street lights came on.
The biggest and fastest cultural shift has taken place in technology. Its development is out pacing our societal and parental ability to keep up. It is exciting to know that a computer can be carried in your backpack, bills can be paid without leaving the comforts of your home, your car can give you directions and food can be cooked in minutes; but the time gained as a result, hasn’t come with the necessary time to adjust our society to the rapid change. It definitely has not done child rearing any favors.
Some time ago I was talking to a friend in Barnes and Noble. In our conversation I said to her that I had read somewhere that this generation of teens may contain more pure information than their parents. This primarily because of the way they receive information, its multiple intake vehicles and its accessibility. As soon as I finished the sentence, a gentleman who was listening at the next table added his thoughts about the statement. He said that; he believes today’s teens have more data; not information. He went on to explain that one of the reasons our teenagers struggle, is because the amount of data they contain is overwhelming; and that adults have not figured out how to change that data into viable information to be used to make better decisions.
It’s a simple argument; one might say; too simple. Regardless of what you might think of the notion; it does have some validity. Our children are bombarded with information from television, radio, ipod & ipads, internet, billboards, magazine ads, music, books, peers, sides of buses, even buildings and the list goes on. I heard someone say recently; “I grew up in a seven (7) channel era.” A reference to the amount of television stations we had in the 60’s and 70s. Today, we live in a 1000+ channel era; in addition to the multi ways you can actually watch TV.
Using a 1970’s automobile analogy; you can equate having too much data to pumping the gas too much when starting car. It overflows the engine and makes the car inoperative, or at least dysfunctional. Or maybe a cooking analogy of putting too much water in the rice. The water makes it too puffy; it loses its form and makes it mushy. Our children are not cars or food, but certainly we get the idea that too much information is a problem; when you don’t have the ability to process it properly.
The challenge for both technology and parenting is, how do you slow down the process, without jeopardizing the progress?