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Technology and the Family

Bondurant Living Magazine

When was the last time you visited a travel agency, called the theater for movie times or wrote a letter?

Modern technology is pushing out the old and replacing it with Skype, texts, Flixster, Smartphones, tablets, YouTube, Instagram, Google, Twitter and Facebook. Like it or not, technology is the wave of the future, and many parents are scrambling to keep their children safe and teach them how to act responsibly in today’s digital world.

What works for one family when it comes to technology use can differ greatly from the next. With a wide selection of electronic gadgets at our fingertips, what are the challenges? The risks? The perks? Where do parents turn for help? To answer these questions, we talked with two Bondurant families and the head librarian at the Bondurant Community Library.

 

A tech savvy world
Bondurant residents Jim and Jenny Campbell agree that electronic devices can make communicating with sons Jacob, 23, and Jack, 18, convenient. Jenny says texting with the kids helps her stay in touch 24/7, but it has drawbacks, too. Texting while driving tops the list.

"I see so many people do it. I don’t. I tell my kids to call me back or text me when they’re out of the car,” Jenny states. “I also think people have lost some of the personal connection. Sometimes when I talk to Jack, he’s getting texts and sending texts. It’s irritating. Jacob plays games sometimes if I’m talking to him,”  Jenny laughs, “I’m guilty, too. I love my iPad, a lot.  At night we’ll be watching TV, and I’ll be on my iPad the whole time.”

Real-time chats, social networking and instant messaging allow children to build friendships, but the anonymity of the Internet can put children at risk. Jenny wishes some school-aged children had more self-control when posting information online.

“That information, those pictures, and those comments are out there forever,” Jenny says.  “Who knows who sees them? Future employers, friends, spouses, family?  You can’t take any of that back.”

According to Jim, today’s technology overload makes kids less aware of their environment and increases the temptation to cheat on homework.  Sitting motionless in front of a computer for hours doesn’t promote kids’ physical development.

“They’re so into their phones and their games today and not as active as kids used to be,” Jim says. “I think it’s really easy for kids to plagiarize and ‘copy and paste’ from the Internet when it comes to homework.”

They placed parental controls on the computer when her sons were young.  When the boys joined Facebook in their late teens, they first needed to “friend” Jenny to keep her in their loop. If she saw a post she didn’t like, she addressed it.

“I won’t mention which son ‘un-friended’ me later on, but let’s just say we’re ‘friends’ again,” Jenny adds.

Asked if he knew anyone who has been cyberbullied, Jack, a high school student, replies, “I have known plenty of people who have been cyberbullied or have been the ones who have bullied. Honestly, it has never happened to me, personally, but I can understand the negative effects it has on some of my fellow students.”

Jack prefers Xbox 360, his computer, phone and Facebook, on occasion, to communicate with his friends and family. He feels people are too quick to post every little detail of their lives on Facebook and Twitter, and wonders who really cares what someone else is eating for dinner or if their clothes are cute. Jack isn’t alone in his opinions.  As more and more parents join Facebook, millions of teens are leaving.

“Keep in mind, I am about 90 percent against any and all social networking websites because I find the idea of it extremely ignorant and overused,” Jack says.

When it comes to Skype, a way to make free phone calls to anyone in the world by using a microphone, an Internet connection and, in some cases, a webcam, the Campbells are on the same page. When Jim was deployed to Iraq for 15 months, Skype allowed the family to stay in touch.

“It was awesome,” Jenny states. “The boys and I would sit around the computer to talk to him.”

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