I am glad I didn’t grow up using social media even though I love using it today.
I was a rule follower as a child, but rarely did I let an opportunity to make people laugh go by. I often think about what it would have been like if my antics were recorded online forever.
Let’s just say I forfeited my ability to run for political office by the time I was 6 and leave it at that.
Even though I have a better sense of sensibility as an adult today, I admit that I spend too much time online.
I have a sixth grader who is quite comfortable with social media, yet isn’t overly preoccupied with the time he devotes to it. I rarely see his face buried in a screen. It makes me proud to know he is handling the ability to connect online responsibly, but it worries me that I won’t always be there to help guide his – and his peers – every move.
He, along with an entire generation of children, is traveling a road for which we parents have no road map. We can’t boast “been there, done that” to the majority of scenarios young people today will face growing up.
My fourth grader received his very first school-provided e-mail address this year…and a whole slew of rules to go along with it.
I watched his reaction when he heard the notification ding letting him know that one of his classmates had sent him an e-mail. He couldn’t wait to open it. Seeing him light up with excitement reminded me of how I felt every time a letter from a pen pal arrived in my mailbox as a child.
I view technology as a powerful tool used to connect people in ways that were once deemed impossible. We access news instantaneously, share photos seamlessly, and reach distant parts of the world effortlessly.
Yet, I will say it again, I admit that I spend too much time online.
I know what it’s like to feel fulfilled living a life digitally disconnected. I did it for more than 20 years. And yet it is so hard to remember a time before cell phones, texting, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
Perhaps one of the best gifts we can give our children is a sense of feeling connected to each other without a digital device in hand. Maybe it’s time to reinvent the pen pal practice? It may force this mom to slow down and remember what it’s like to wait patiently for something special to arrive in her mailbox.
Heidi Woodard is a working-mom with three children.
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