I was sitting with some teenagers in a high school cafeteria not long ago when I noticed something strange happening. Ten years ago, a typical lunch room was noisy, boisterous and almost obnoxious. On this particular day, it was eerily silent.
I walked through the narrow hallway to the great room and found almost all of the students sitting at a table, eating their food with one hand. In their other hand was a smartphone. Now, when I say some, I mean ALL. All of the students were Facebooking, texting and tweeting. Every now and then, they would emerge from their online business to share a word or two with the students sitting to their right or left.
I asked the Senior I was with what was going on, and he looked at me like I was the one who lost my mind. I thought we were in a high school, but what I found was mindless drones pecking away at their two-thumb conversations. Wow, the world has changed!
Before 2004, there was no such thing as Facebook.
Before 2002, YouTube was just an idea.
Before the mid-90's, Google was a number.
And cell phones have only been popular for the last decade and a half or so. Before that, we thought the only reason you needed a cell phone was to do your drug deals.
I know I'm probably dating myself, but honestly, the questions parents need to be asking about technology are important.
I don't believe Facebook is bad.
I think Twitter is fun.
YouTube is an incredible way to share ideas over video.
Cell phones have modernized communication like no other time in human history.
But what are going to be the effects of a generation who identify themselves by the number of friends they have on Facebook?
What happens when our students don't know how to write in a professional way because they use TXT language in their English papers?
What happens to a population who doesn't know the importance of looking someone in the eye to talk with them, because they've only known looking into a computer screen on Skype or Facetime?
Please read this as an honest post -- I'm not anti-social media, but I think we have a responsibility to teach our kids how to be human.
A few years ago, I went to see PIXAR's movie WALL-E. Most people thought it was about a cute robot setting out on a space adventure, but as I watched it, I saw something very different, particularly in the ending part of the movie, when we are introduced to the humans who have advanced their technology to a point where they have all the creature comforts of living without any human interaction.
In one particular place, a human bumps his hover chair into another human and looks at him -- IN THE EYE. It was the first time they'd ever seen each other apart from a computer screen, even though they lived life everyday, side by side.
If we're not careful, we'll be set to be the humans in WALL-E. We will become calloused to real human interaction, and we'll loose the art of true friendship.
Celebrating the good times together....
Mourning when we need each other to bear our loss...
Sharing together the adventures of being human...
This is what is at risk if your student doesn't have someone who can help guide and teach them how to use technology.
The difference between parenthood and just being mom and dad? It doesn't take any work to be a mom or dad; you're just given that title when you have a kid. But when you become a parent, you take on the responsibility to guide, mentor, train and provide ways for your child to become all he or she was created to be.
Take heed, my friends. The lunchroom is silent. We're losing ground. Does your kid know how to communicate?