George Lucas Educational Foundation

Mothers Discuss Their Kids' Digital Lives

A group of friends talk about their roles as parents, their concerns, and their amazement when it comes to their teenagers' digital skills.
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Mothers Discuss Their Kids' Digital Lives (Transcript)

Clyneice: I guess the biggest problem I had was the balance, trying to get him to do a little bit of outdoors, not to get so focused on doing the technology. Eve if it wasn't a game, he still wanted to be on the computer, so he will spend literally twenty hours, if I let him, on the computer. So we sorta have a deal where, after two or three hours, he's supposed to take a break, go outside, walk up and down the block or something.

And he'd go, "Mom, you know, I really have this balance. I got everything covered." So and I do feel that he has that.

Carolyn Eustace: But the other thing I find too, that they multitask much better than I ever did. Because my daughter could be doing four or five different things, all at once, with the noise, the music, and she's IMing and she's doing her homework and she's texting.

Clareice Chaney: They do research papers on the internet.

Clyneice: Mm-hmm.

Clareice Chaney: The whole thing where you get your bibliography, I mean, you know, certainly dating myself.

Woman 1: Go to the library.

Clareice Chaney: Go to the library. They don't do research papers nothing like what we were trained to do.

Carolyn Eustace: There's an issue of plagiarism and they have to be very careful with that. So I think they step very cautiously as they do their research and how to write what they've read and translate, analyze and translate that, and understand it. So I think it's a little bit more rigorous. I mean, we did a lot more legwork to do our papers, but--

Woman 2: Yeah, but I found--

Carolyn Eustace: Yes. They have to learn how to sort and find this information.

Clareice Chaney: You try to get a balance between how much are you, you know, micromanaging their lives? Especially since they don't want you there. You know, when they start hitting seventeen, but I think as a parent, you still have to make sure that you do it, because the digital opens the world to them. It is just so all encompassing that if you stand back too far, they'll get lost.

Carolyn Eustace: Well, my daughter, she was a little put off because I friended her on Facebook. She couldn't say no. So and it was with some trepidation that I did it, but I friended her and some of-- and Ruby and Ellie too. And there are things that, I kind of look from the side, you know, and I don't look directly at it, because some things you don't wanna know. So what I do, once in a while, I go and I look to see what's going on. What is she talking about? Who's she talking to? And I think they express themselves, and it's their world and their forum. And I don't think they sense any danger, and I think they feel this freeness and openness.

Sujatha Paul Blackstone: Even though they think they're mature and know what they're doing, sometimes what they write and everything on it, it concerns me.

Woman 2: Yeah.

Clyneice: I do feel that as long as you've got some oversight and you're not allowing them to be totally kids and get into dangerous areas, that it's one of the most wonderful things for them, because this is the direction that the world is going in.

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Discussion Questions

1. How can parents keep up with the latest technology?

2. How can parents help kids sort and synthesize information in the digital age?

3. Are kids on computers too much? How do you moderate computer use without being overbearing?

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rajshahchicago's picture

I started using FB as a teenager in '05 and since used it until the beginning of this year when I made a resolution to become less involved in the virtual world. Since quitting, I've seen the difference not only in my life now, but in contrast how life used to be when I used FB. It's not pretty. I regret I was on it for so long. Forget all the data/privacy issues for a second, but consider the human behavioral hidden costs and you quickly realize the cost of FREE is heavy.

The habits that you develop become so much harder to break., as with anything. Clyneice is right, this is the direction the world is heading in. But should it? With all these techno trends, what about the cost on our individual humanness? Instead of seeing a friend face to face to celebrate occassions, we post on their walls. These are not viable replacements. Technology was meant to be secondary to our daily human needs and challenges.

I'm not a parent, I'm sure it's difficult for all parents whose kids, at home and at school, are told to get their kids more engaged digitally. But they really need to rethink the pros/cons of letting their kids get so hooked on tech. It's a silent drug.

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