The ways in which children speak to or act toward adults, parents, and teachers is often a source of significant upset and confusion for many parents. I often hear “I would never have spoken to my parents and teachers that way”, or “My parents and school would never have tolerated this behavior”. The apparent increasing occurrence of disrespectful behavior, at least over my 65 years of life, seems to parallel the ever quickening evolution of technology and the availability of information, that has grown exponentially since the development of the transistor radio in the early fifties. Information used to be distributed by parents and teachers, with children often receiving a processed version of real world events. As information became more portable and vivid, children were able to listen to and watch events, music, and world occurrences privately, without the adult filters that were previously in place. This switch from family processed information, to unfiltered child based awareness, was not accompanied by changes in approaches to parenting or teaching.
In education, teachers are moving in the direction of becoming “facilitators” or “resources”; no longer the “source” of information. What are parents to do? In some components of our society the role of parent as “filter” or “censor” continues, generating a number of difficult to manage rules and consequences. Some parents turn a blind eye, letting their children travel through the internet without supervision or limits. From my perspective, parents need to learn all there is to know about technology and the internet, so they can supervise and teach their children how to manage their rapidly changing world. In a sense, we become” processors” of information by participating and helping our children utilize the internet as a tool for understanding the world around them. Social media, digital games and music, and the internet should not become their whole world, but used only as a mechanism for learning and understanding.