Children today experience the world differently than those of generations past. Kids have more than dolls and blocks to keep them entertained today. They are part of the digital age, and the norms are changing every day.
Giving children access to technology is now seen as part of a typical childhood. And those game consoles and iPads kids want are barely the tip of the iceberg. New gadgets and games are being introduced all the time.
Years back, siblings might grow up having similar experiences. They might share toys and have the same educational games. However, now trends are changing fast. Kids in the same household might have drastically different experiences as new tech becomes accepted and then expected faster.
The norms may change quickly, but that doesn’t mean you should let that info pass you by. These trends can provide great insights into your child’s world. Here are six new norms for kids growing up in the digital age.
1. Kids Own Cell Phones
Kids hit a lot of milestones growing up, and parents are usually involved in all of them. For example, many parents will help their kid open a checking account. Maybe they’ll help them purchase their first car. You might even help your kid navigate their first date. Today’s parents have one additional milestone to worry about: their kid’s first cell phone.
Once upon a time, parents didn’t know where their kids were every minute of the day. You might not have known where little Johnny was playing in the neighborhood until he called from a friend’s landline. Those days seem like ancient history.
Parents today have constant, easy access to their kids by way of smartphones. However, these gadgets come with their own set of problems. Unlimited social media and internet access can be a bad thing. Thankfully, there are kids phones available that just offer simple messaging and calling features. As cellphones become an expected part of childhood, these phones make that purchase easier for parents.
2. Online Socializing Is Typical
Face-to-face communication is not the prized form of socializing it used to be. Years ago, landline phone calls were all the rage, then instant messaging via disc, and now, the trend is virtual. Kids use their smartphones to chat on apps. Plus, they use social media on their phones or a computer.
Communication is a valuable skill, but kids don’t necessarily learn the right form of communication online. Texting and social media can be problematic for a child’s social development. Hiding behind a screen to communicate doesn’t help them.
Social development is the process by which a child learns to interact with others around them.
Healthy social development can help children develop language skills, build self esteem, and resolve conflicts.
Social media is a great tool for kids to showcase their creative abilities. It can also help them stay connected with friends, and make them feel as though they’re part of a community. But keep in mind, social media can also be dangerous. As a parent, you need to pick the right time and the right way to introduce kids to social media. If your kids start using social media too young or have unlimited access, they run the risk of getting cyberbullied.
3. Kids Consume News and Information Differently
There was once a time when people woke up and turned on the TV to get their daily dose of news. Before that, newspapers were the primary source of local and national news. If you wanted to know specifics of a historical event, you might have turned to an encyclopedia. Using a library wasn’t out of the question, either.
However, today’s kids will often get their information online. The internet has an enormous amount of information at the ready for kids’ curious Google searches. Social platforms, like Facebook and Youtube, also have an unending supply of news-related information.
Unfortunately, the information kids find online is often skewed and untrue. Rather than prioritizing truth, the algorithms of social media platforms create a flow of content meant to keep someone watching. If your kids are using Facebook and Youtube for news, be sure to explain the unreliability of these sources.
The 24-hour news cycle isn’t new, but its development and expansion on the internet is. So be aware of where your kids are getting their information. You’ll need to be an excellent fact checker to keep them well informed.
4. Streaming Services Are the New Saturday Morning Cartoons
One day, you have over a hundred channels and a collection of your favorite movies on DVD. Next thing you know, you have a smart TV and can’t remember the last time you watched cable. You don’t even know where your last DVD player went.
Many of us grew up watching the digital age unfold right before our eyes. For kids, it’s all they ever knew. A TV episode isn’t something you anticipate weekly, it’s one of an entire season to binge over a weekend. They’ll also be able to buy their way out of most advertisements.
Kids use streaming services. Consumers who use smart devices access five streaming services on average. With all of the available streaming options out there, it’s easy to find and access the entertainment you want. Children have a lot of choices, and they’re happy about that.
5. Kids Talk to Their Tech
Voice recognition technology is essentially software or hardware that is able to decode the human voice. The market has been growing, and it’s expected to reach 27.16 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. Kids growing up in the digital age will be very familiar with voice recognition technology.
These are a few of the most popular uses of voice-activation technology:
- Cars with hands-free features for safety.
- Home appliances.
- Laptops and tablets.
- Personal digital assistants like Siri.
- Wearable technology like smart watches.
There are so many uses for voice-activated technology. It’s unlikely that kids will know life without it. The competing voices of Siri and Alexa in every living room might sound like the start of a dystopian novel. However, to your kids, it will seem completely normal. They’ll just expect that everyday tasks get easier as voice recognition becomes more advanced.
6. Screen Use Induced Stress and Anxiety Will Be More Common
Gen Z and the following generations will likely use screens at an unparalleled rate. There are certainly good things that come from tech and the digital age. However, screen addiction isn’t one of them. Overusing phones and computers can lead to stress and anxiety.
It’s harder for kids today to just relax. When they hear the chime of an instant message, they’re conditioned to immediately respond. They rely on the technology available at their fingertips, and it’s hard for them to go without.
A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports found that there may be a link between screen time and depression and anxiety. In fact, kids seem to be less emotionally stable all around when they overuse screens. Seven hours or more of screen time a day may be causing kids a number of other problems too. Your previously focused and attentive child might be losing those attributes to the screen.
It’s important that kids spend time away from screens. Because of the risks, parents need to be aware and set boundaries early on. Technology isn’t necessarily a problem, but too much of it can be.
The digital age is an exciting and chaotic time. There’s more information, gadgets, and games than ever before. All of this tech can open doors for your kids, but they come with drawbacks.
As an adult, you know that their world is different from the one you grew up in. Now it’s time to use that knowledge to find ways to make sure that tech serves them well. Knowing these norms can help you stay better informed, and prepare for the next wave of changes.