Technology challenges parenting | TheSpec.com

Graham Hookey.

When I was growing up, my parents thought record players, and later Sony Walkman, were a waste of time, not to mention the fact that they fundamentally disagreed with the music I listened to.

When my children were growing up I thought television and video games were a waste of time and I dramatically limited their exposure to either. I fundamentally disagreed with the quality of television programming at the time and the emphasis on destructive objectives in video games.

Now, here we are, in an age where many parents think social media is a waste of time and where they fundamentally disagree with the invasion of their children’s privacy and the access that social media grants others to their children’s time and attention.

It seems each generation of parents must constantly deal with the impact of new technology on their children. No doubt some cave parent, a million years ago or so, objected to his lazy kids using a wheel to lighten the load!

The problem is always the same. The young generation easily gravitates to new technologies and understands and utilizes them considerably faster than their parents. Whatever parents are using often seems adequate to them because it’s what they use in their already relatively well-established routines. But young people don’t share those routines and are constantly looking for something new to “disrupt” the way things are done.

I have lately spent more time reading about artificial intelligence (AI) and the developing metaverse. Being two generations out of the newest technology, I have to admit that learning a little about these topics is like learning a foreign language — not everything is making sense and it’s taking more time than I’d like to see the whole picture. Still, the bits and pieces I can understand are enough to make me wonder what the next generation of parents is going to have to deal with. After all, technology has been evolving extremely rapidly under human guidance; how fast will it evolve when AI takes over?

Even those who have been involved in the development of AI are raising alarms about the risks, and are suggesting governments and regulatory agencies need to develop policies sooner rather than later to control and manage the utilization of these new technologies. But if there is one thing we’ve learned over the millennia, it’s that trying to dampen young people’s enthusiasm for new technology has only lit a fire under that enthusiasm. Every policy will find a young person finding a way around it; it’s what young people do best!

Social media development was driven by people in their late teens and twenties. The metaverse and AI will be driven largely by a younger generation that will embrace and expand upon it and for the vast majority of parents who stand back and watch it evolve, it will be a new and frightening frontier. I feel pretty confident that bottle-feeding or breastfeeding will pale as a “problematic” parenting issue in comparison!


Graham Hookey is the author of Parenting Is A Team Sport (Amazon Books) and can be reached at ghookey@yahoo.com.

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