PENNSYLVANIA – Long Gone are the days of hearing children playing out on the street until dark. Long Gone are the days of children playing for long hours in the park. Long Gone are the sounds of touch football games, pickup basketball games, whiffle ball games, and even games of kick the can. The problem is that these type of “once upon a time” common activities have been replaced by reclusive and divisive based interaction utilizing social media resulting in non-social false realities.
I am not a guy who lives in the past and cannot see many of the great, new inventions and technological advances of the day. I don’t constantly remember the “good old days” because I love my current life. I am not calling for us to go back in time, but I do have a great concern when it comes to the youth of our present age.
A vast majority of today’s youth lack relational skills, work ethic, and inner drive. The cause of the problem is their parents. I understand that almost no parent will intentionally set out to do something that is overtly wrong to their child. Almost every parent sets out to do that which is good for their child’s well-being. So how did we get here?
There is an array of circumstances that have led us to what is a current epidemic level issue. The first one is having both parents in the work force. If both parents “choose to” or “have to” work full time jobs, there seems to be a direct correlation to the problem I am addressing. I know this seems old fashioned and it has nothing to do with a woman’s intelligence or abilities, but there was, and still is, often a marked difference in the child’s activity level, relational skills, and overall lifestyle choices when one parent is not working full time.
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The second issue that leads directly to what I am seeing in our youth is the lack of control or management of a child’s device/internet/social media time and access. This should be Parenting 101, but there seems to be no limitation to time allotted, little control over access to dangerous or at least inappropriate sites, and little if any effort to observe, inspect, or inquire about these things in the child’s life.
Again, at the sake of appearing old fashioned, I believe parents need to be intimately involved in the control of how much time and where that time is spent when it comes to technology and social media. In case you live under a rock, the dangers that can and do occur because of uncontrolled access to the internet and all the platforms that our youth access it, are prevalent, real, and extremely bad.
How many stories of sexting among youth do we need to see before we realize it can be our children? How many incidents of kidnappings taking place when the initial contact came through social media need to occur before we wake up? How many occurrences of poor moral decisions made by youth do we need to read about before we do something about it?
Parents need to take control or else someone, or something else, will. I am not that guy that thinks there is no good that has come out of our technological advancements. I am on social media actively. I see the benefits of all these things, but I also am not blind or do not have my head in the sand when it comes to its dangers and the menacing scenarios it presents to our youth.
TV, Netflix, Social Media in any medium, Video Games, and the like were never intended to be baby sitters or replace the importance of good, old-fashioned relationships. Parents need to recognize the imminent dangers of unobserved or uncontrolled access to these mediums and must simply realize that too much time spent in any non-relational or falsely relational endeavors will hinder the growth of our children.
Even the term “relationship” has changed due to social media. I hear youth talk about their strong relationships they have with someone they have never physically met. I see the stories of young girls running off and endangering themselves as they pursue a meeting with some guy they met on these formats. Parents, where are you?
I will end this concern with a little advice on how to handle the not so subtle slide to unobserved and out of control devise usage by youth. I haven’t parented perfectly by any means. My young adult children are on social media and have access to phones and computers. I will say, however, that these things don’t control their lives as a result of parameters set up when they were young, open discussions about the realities of these outlets, and an understanding of the Truth.
Parents, set up a specific time limit for your children on their devices, social media, video games, and anything they do alone. Monitor through visually checking or using apps that check where and what they are reading. Talk about what it is that they are doing. Please make them get out and interact socially. These steps don’t solve every problem that they will face, but they certainly will lessen the exposure to the things and people that want to steal their hearts with ill intent.