I know how frustrating it is to be a parent these days.
I know the feeling of anger welling up inside you because your son’s not getting off Xbox after 18,000 freakin’ warnings.
And how it feels when your daughter won’t even look up as she snapchats and posts to the world.
Or the guilt you feel when your littlest one is sucked into another episode on Netflix.
It’s enough to make you hate technology, right?
But may I suggest that you consider that there are some really good reasons to stop hating on technology? That if we can take a deep breath, calm our own nervous systems and get more curious, we might discover that we can use technology as an opportunity to connect?
Huh? You’re thinking…this seems like the source of our disconnection!
Their technology (social media, video games, photos, videos, etc) is as important to them as their sports, academics, in person friendships, family, and anything else that you think of as important in their lives.
Just because you don’t want it to be so important to them, doesn’t mean it isn’t important to them—or that there’s no value in it.
Let’s not argue with reality here.
Technology ranks so high in their lives. And when you hate on it A L L T H E T I M E — you’re disconnecting yourself from this part of their lives.
We resist this part of their lives…hoping if we do it enough, it’ll go away.
But it won’t.
It’s not going away (and it’s not all bad either).
In fact, my 15 year old is an excellent guitar player solely because of what he’s learned on YouTube – no lessons, no classes!
So…today…just today…can you spend a moment trying to be just a tiny bit curious about what they’re doing online?
Ask a question. Sit with your son while he plays a video game and ask him to tell you more about it. Bite your tongue when you feel the impulse to say something snarky or judgmental. Find out what he’s doing and why. Find out what he likes about the game. You might be surprised. (Added bonus: I got some of my best cuddles from my kids this way.)
Ask your daughter to show you some of her most fave insta shots. And watch a YouTube video that your kids are enjoying. Yes, even when you think it’s really dumb.
Technology is an amazing conversation opener — if you can hold back saying out loud the judgmental tape playing in your head. If you can just sit in the space of curiosity and wonder. If you can really listen and open to understanding them, their world, their interests and their lives through the lens of a digital native.
So when you notice yourself judging your kids for watching another YouTube video, playing a shooter game on Xbox, or sending another Snap or posting another photo on Instagram…take a breath. Put your stuff aside and enter their world with curiosity. Just for one moment.
Then you can go back to judging 😉
But you might not want to. You might like the connection you felt. It’s just an experiment, but see how you feel.
Here are 3 great reasons why you might want to stop hating on technology:
- You can (re)build connection. This is essential to your relationship. I had a client who felt like she had lost her son because all he did was play video games. He didn’t talk to her. I suggested she try this experiment. She did it and was amazed that he started talking with her again. If you feel connection is missing or strained, make it easier by connecting with your kids where they are.
- You make it safe to bring up this part of their lives. When you’re always hating on or judging whatever your kids do or how much time they spend online, they aren’t going to talk to you about it. Would you mention a FB post that upset you if you thought you were going to get lectured about ‘being on your damn phone all the time’? As kids navigate their world, they still need guidance from you. By connecting with kids around technology, you have more opportunities to talk about what your kids are watching and doing – and you make it safe for them to talk about what’s going on in ALL areas of their lives.
- You show your kids you care about their whole life (not just the parts you approve of). You don’t have to like that shooter game your kid plays, you just have to like your kid. You don’t have to have the same sense of humor or want to communicate with your friends through the same media they use, you just have to want to know your kid better. Ultimately, it’s about making sure they know that you care about them and their interests. To be open to your kids and the realities of the lives they are living. You don’t have to spend all day looking at their phone with them … neither of you wants that. But meet them where THEY are and use what’s important to THEM to connect.
Technology’s here to stay, and it’s not the all-bad monster we sometimes make it out to be. Most of us grew up without all of these gadgets and devices, so perhaps we can’t fully understand. Let your kids show you why it matters to them. Let them show you what they love and learn and get out of it.
You may not agree or like it, but if you can hold off on the hating and get curious and interested, you will create a closer connection.