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When I was growing up, moms always seemed to have the answers to life’s questions. Now our next generation of kids is turning to the all-knowing Internet. What can we do to keep up?
A few weeks ago, my son couldn’t find his favorite jeans. Instead of asking me if I knew where they were, he totally shocked me when he asked if he could Google where his pants were! Seriously, don’t they know by now that moms know where everything lost is located − from their tiny handheld video games to favorite jeans?
Who can blame them? Life today exists for most of us online nearly as much as it does in person – people email, chat, text, blog and post messages about their thoughts and feelings, and photos of where they are, what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with – in real-time, day or night. Even though it may be fun and new to us, kids who are born into this digital era are soaking up a new reality – the virtual one.
I learned not to compete with technology because, to say it bluntly, I’ll lose. When my five-year-old needed help with his new building block set, and I couldn’t figure it out, he asked me to YouTube it. Instead of feeling replaced by YouTube, I was super-impressed that he could sit there and follow a very long multistep directional video, made by another kid with a very cute accent (not a mom) from somewhere in the world.
So I learned the best thing we could do is demonstrate to our kids how technology can enhance – not necessarily replace – important things (like their moms, of course) in their everyday lives. And even if you’re not super tech-savvy, you can lead the way! For example, when cooking dinner, show your children an old family recipe you may have written down in your recipe box. Then on another night, show them how you can search for recipes online. Talk about the value of both ways. Another example is to have your child draw a picture on paper, then in an art program online. Technology just becomes another tool to use like any other tool.
By teaching my son what technology can – and cannot – do today and guiding him to use it creatively to find answers to the (very, very few) questions that mom doesn’t know, maybe he’ll grow up and invent a way to find missing things, or solve even bigger problems like clean air, renewable energy sources or cures for diseases.
The bottom line is that we can rest easy: We don’t need to keep up or even compete – our role of mom still hasn’t changed. We are still guiding and helping our kids find answers to make decisions and building up their independence and responsibility. And no machine will ever replace the warm hug of a mom.