There is a report in The Guardian about a generation of “screen kids” who are being raised by “electronic babysitters”. One of its main concerns is that the children spend more and more time in their bedrooms alone with their electronic entertainments. The report was released by the National Consumer Council. NCC chief executive Ed Mayo said: “Today’s children are now ‘screen kids’. In some streets, every bedroom has a television for children and many have a computer. With many children watching or surfing when they wake up, at breakfast, after school, during dinner and in bed before sleep, we need to ask whether the electronic screen has now become the electronic babysitter.”

One very interesting pattern indicated that children in poorer neighborhoods were more likely to have televisions in their bedrooms than children from more wealthy neighborhoods. As the paper reports, “nearly half the children from better-off families surveyed had televisions in their bedrooms, compared with 97% of the nine- to 13-year-olds from less well-off areas.”

The report goes on to say that materialistic children were more likely than others to argue with their family, have a lower opinion of their parents and suffer from low self-esteem. I find this troubling, how are parents being parents if this is the culture. Where is the interaction between young and old in a family?

Bill Gates has identified the generation of children born from 1994 on as “Generation I” — the digital information generation (how ironic it is I following the success of apple’s products). He talks about how they will look at the world in a completely different way.

Speaking at the New York Institute of Technology, Mr. Gates said this:
“these are kids who will always wonder why we talk about having records. To them, music will just be something you can get on your computer, and organized exactly the way you want and carry around with you however you want. To them, the idea that all the rich information should be easy to search and find, and that you should be able to find other kids in another country and speak to them about what their thinking is about that topic. They’ll simply take that for granted. They’ll think of buying as something where you can go out and get the best prices, or get the product reviews across the Internet. And so, they will think about the Internet in a far more profound way than most of us who grew up without it being an ever-present tool.”

Those words were spoken in 1999, and that future is here now. As Gates predicted these young people will, in a creative way, build the Web sites that will make the Web sites we have today look like really nothing, sort of in the same way that you look at the early TV shows, early radio shows, and realize that the medium was not being fully exploited, there was so much more that could be done by people who really grew up with it and thought about it as central to their life.
Digital technology is key to their life. It isn’t just at school etc., but in their social life, it is “central to their life”. But this lifestyle has issues, family life is changing due to the way in which the family sit in front of technology, be it TV, games stations, laptops etc. I think it is important, and it challenges me on how I do this in my own home, that at times we have dinners without technology, without the TV or radio on, to have time to allow and develop conversation.
Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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