Is Modern Day Culture Impacting Childhood?

As an 80’s baby, I will never forget my lines of communication consisted of a house phone and a lime green pager, where I returned phone calls at a phone booth for 25 cents.  I also remember my knowledge of the world coming from immediate surroundings, which were my neighborhood, my school, and my family.  I remember my social gatherings being the skating rink on a Sunday night to see other friends who went to different schools.  Socialization for adolescents and teens are different.    Modern-day socialization is iPhone’s, androids, gaming systems, and ipads.  Hanging outside with friends has become a time of the past. When we do see socialization amongst peer groups, the phones are the focus, taking pictures for Snapchat and Instagram with very minimal conversations happening.  Verbal conversations have become a thing of the past.  

Today’s adolescents and teens have immediate access to things that they would likely not be exposed to without current technology.  Modern-day technology such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and twitter has changed the way the world communicates with one another and has totally replaced verbal communication for many.  

Social media is an earlier form of exposure to the world that children may not have never been exposed to.  Early exposure affects the way children may feel about themselves and their relationships with others.  Adolescence is a stage in which children begin to form their self-identities and images of themselves.  This naturally happens through cultural practices, educational surroundings, family and friends.  Social media is now an added influence on self-image and identity.  

The Academy of Pediatrics states that because of their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents are at some risk as they navigate and experiment with social media.  Recent research indicates that there are frequent online expressions of offline behaviors, such as bullying, clique-forming, and sexual experimentation, four that have introduced problems such as cyberbullying, five privacy issues, and “sexting.”6 Other problems that merit awareness include internet addiction and concurrent sleep deprivation.7

With, 2 75 percent of teenagers now own cell phones, and 25 percent use them for social media, 54 percent use them for texting, and 24 percent use them for instant messaging.3 Thus, a large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and cell phones. What this says to me is that most of the generations, emotional development is being groomed online by cell phones and iPads.   

A child’s first example of how to function in society is their family, peers, and those they see daily. Once the iPad is given to the child at the age of 3 to keep them quiet, their entire life can change. They learn a new way to interact and to be soothed and parents can adjust to utilizing these methods to “babysit.” As a young child, when I became antsy around the house,  my mom would say, “Crystal go outside.”  Now I get it.  Going outside was her way of getting a break and increasing my socialization skills as well. Not to mention her desire for me to burn the energy off so that I could be exhausted coming back in.    As a teenager, it would be the same; I would meet up with my friends at the park, on the street curb, or walk around the neighborhood and talk.  Socialization and access have changed so much for adolescents, tweens, and teens.  The pressure that our young folks are experiencing based on what they are seeing is not something that I could have imagined growing up. Modern-day technology and culture are changing the way that our children are growing up and how fast they are growing up.  While generationally parents may face some of the same stressors when raising children, times have changed so much for the good and the bad, but what we must realize is that modern day culture is changing childhood for later generations of children and it’s very important that we are able to listen and pay close attention to the needs of those children because they are definitely not the same.

2.Common Sense Media. Is Technology Networking Changing Childhood? A National Poll. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media; 2009.Available at: www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/CSM_teen_social_media_080609_FINAL.pdf.

3.Hinduja S, Patchin J. Offline consequences of online victimization: school violence and delinquency. J School Violence. 2007;6(3):89–112

4. Lenhart A. Teens and Sexting. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center; 2009.Available at: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Teens-and-Sexting.aspx. Accessed August 4, 2010

5. Patchin JW, Hinduja S. Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: a preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence Juvenile Justice. 2006;4(2):148–169

6.A thin line: 2009 AP-TVT digital abuse study. Available at www.athinline.org/MTV-AP_Digital_Abuse_Study_Executive_Summary.pdf Accessed July 16, 2010

7. Christakis DA, Moreno MA. Trapped in the net: will internet addiction become a 21st-century epidemic? Arch Pediatr  Adolesc Med. 2009;163(10):959–960

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