In this ever-changing society we live in, we see the technological advances exploding before us and the generations to come. However, how educated are those from the previous generations to these technological advances? And more importantly, how will this affect the minds of the future generations? There is the shift from the non-digital era of the 20th century to the overtly digital 21st century. A shift not only from the magnetic fridges to the iCloud photo libraries but from one’s non-digital identity to one’s digital identity: more importantly, digital citizenship. Digital citizenship expresses the importance of awareness, education, and proper usage of technology and the services it offers to students, children, adults, etc. The aspect of digital citizenship that is focused on in Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D.’s article, Digital Health and Wellness for 21st Century Families, is digital health and well-being. She emphasizes the importance of educating the parents of the future generations on how to promote healthy and appropriate technological usage for families living in this tech-savvy era. Dr. Price-Mitchell provides a list of ways for families to improve their children’s digital wellbeing. Suggestions such as managing screen time, promoting physical activity, and setting rules for bedtime are promoted in her article. Dr. Price-Mitchell provides this information for families to better the future generations:
“The following ways to foster digital health increase children’s self-awareness and help them understand how technology impacts their well-being. As they grow to adulthood, they will have the internal resources to both manage their own use of technology and determine how technology can help improve their lives.”
From this statement above, the word that should be in all-capitalization, bold, italics, and underline is improved. Technology must improve our lives, not control them. The grand conjecture of her work is that we must prevent overall dependence on our devices. Since these children are being born into a world of screen-touch devices and voice-command features, they are highly susceptible to a life of full, technological reliance. Therefore, the parents of these children must educate their children to utilize the mental and physical capabilities at their disposal. These children must be equipped with life-skills and mental and emotional awareness to preserve the beauties of the human race. Technology taints the magnificence of our minds and internal resources with jaw-dropping products of communication devices, entertainment applications, and fancy software. As the plethora of electronic devices expands, the potential for the human race is diminished. To prevent this downward spiral from occurring, we must enhance the intonation and coherence between one’s mental and physical capacity and one’s ability to use technology responsibly.
Ultimately, one’s digital health and developmental health share equal value and importance. Therefore, it is imperative to preserve one’s developmental well-being while maintaining a healthy knowledge of digital citizenship. This concept is extremely important and it touches upon the fragility of a child’s development. However, there is a dual advantage. We better the lives of the children with digital education and promotion of their mental well-being, while benefitting the lives of the parents: The guardians of these children gain a stronger sense of technological immersion through their children, thereby promoting a stronger connection between parent and child. It allows for a stronger link digitally and personally in familial relationships. All and all, these children are thrown into this technological world without our collective say, and this article is about coping with this fact and parenting children properly in this kind of age.
Although this article expresses the importance of digital citizenship and education amongst young children through the lends of parenting, there are some aspects of the article that contradict the main idea of the work. Two out of the 12 ways to improve your child’s digital health seem counterproductive in the promotion of a child’s personal and interpersonal relations. One of the suggestions is to explore wellness apps to encourage exercise in physical and mental health, however, this contradicts the second suggestion in promoting physical activity and outdoor activity away from the screens. Additionally, another suggestion Dr. Price-Mitchell mentions is to “cultivate and nurture the human spirit.” This aspect seems unfitting to the rest of the article as it is about teaching technological etiquette to children. In this suggestion, she fails to provide elaborate detail in terms of conducting this suggestion, however, she touches upon the important topic of nurturing one’s spirit and connection to oneself. A productive aspect in this suggestion was her “shout out” to Tristan Harris: a well-known figure on my blog, as I wrote a previous blog post (The Magic of Technology) about his work, How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind—from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist. Like Dr. Price-Mitchell, Tristan Harris is dedicated to the population’s education of technology and the importance of digital awareness and identity.
Ultimately, digital citizenship is extremely important in terms of not only a child’s development digitally and (inter)personally, but also through the lends of a parent’s connection with one’s child. It is imperative to educate and nurture one’s mental capacity and abilities in such a technological era to further promote the bettering of the human race for generations to come.