Life in the Digital Age

I can happily say I put the “no” in techno.

It’s not that I am a techno-phobe – in fact, I have embraced the digital age to the point that I much prefer conversing via email and texts than on the phone. I’m one of those mommy Facebookers who haunt their kids’ pages, and I will happily cart my laptop to cafes, parks and ballgames to get things done.


But make no mistake, I’m a novice. I still need to call my kids over to help me program our Hi-def TV or add music to my MP3 player, and I still refer to the act of recording a certain program as “taping.” (And by the way, I never did learn how to program that VCR.)


I still call those music thingies albums, too. But that’s beside the point.


The fact is, I don’t embrace technology – I co-exist with it. I am straddling two eras – that of the gee-whiz generation that remembers their first color TV and the generation that is growing up posting to YouTube. I know just enough to be dangerous.


But as it has been pointed out countless times before by people much more intelligent than I, our kids are wired to be wired. They have grown up – are growing up – in a world where they are trained from an early age how to think digitally. They are comfortable with personal technology in a way that will always be foreign to me.


And that’s good, right? We want the evolution of smart, tech-savvy people.


But how much is too much?


Certainly we are all aware of how detrimental it is for kids to spend so much time at their computer that they develop unhealthy eating and exercise habits. We know that cyber space harbors evil predators who prey on young kids. We are definitely cognizant of the astronomical costs of unchecked texting – and trust me, that’s a surprise no one wants.


So the struggle for us, as usual, is balance: how can we encourage our kids to be part of 21st Century technology, but still be safe?


We try to answer that in our August issue, as our kids are preparing for another year at school. Linda Childers’ feature on cyber safety offers some strong, practical tips for encouraging healthy Internet use. Millicent Skiles looks at the phenomenon of the popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games, and how they are encouraging kids to take up “real” instruments. And Tiffany Carboni, herself a Peninsula-based mom blogger, looks at some of the top education websites for preschoolers and school-age kids.


In doing this, Bay Area Parent is trying to strike a balance – we don’t want to condemn technology and its influence on our kids, but we also want to show how parents need to be involved as well.


And that’s the hard part – especially for parents like me.


Perhaps the lesson hit home with a vengeance last year, as my daughter dealt with her college applications. Everything – from the applications, letters of recommendation, financial aid information and, finally, acceptances – were done online. No more waiting by mailboxes for “big envelopes” – colleges either sent emails or had students log onto websites with secure passwords.


So, I will continue to try and improve my “tech savvies” – haunting Facebook, figuring my way through my iPhone and clutching the dreaded TV remote in hopes of actually understanding it.


Because technology isn’t going away.


–Peggy Spear, BAP Editor
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