From the moment we are born, and before, even within the womb, we as humans are responsive and reactive to our environment. It’s one of the reasons that often the hardships experienced by the parent in their childhood can echo into the lives of their children. The apple never falls from the tree the saying goes. By osmosis, and our senses, we collect and gather data and experiences which we store and process as we go through life.
See the human as an iceberg. Above the surface, there is our conscious mind, where we think, decide and take action, and the subconscious lies below, and runs a number of the aspects of your “operating system”, from basic physical functions – breathing, heart rate, the immune system – to survival mechanisms when danger arises. But it also serves as a warning system based on experiences, and can lump dangers together creating a chain reaction of emotions to certain situations.
So what’s my point? A child is a sponge, and absorbs the content that it meets on a minute-by-minute basis. While estimates vary, on any given day a human thinks as many as 50 000 – 70 000 thoughts, and we respond to images, words, sounds, experiences in positive and negative ways, some research says 80% are negative thoughts, and 95% are the same themes as yesterday. The more we are exposed to things the more they become a part of us – negativity or positivity.
It all seems like it’s happening in real time, thoughts going in and out, but the interpretations and decisions are happening underneath, the part of the iceberg we cannot see, our subconscious. And so if we can help our children to place and navigate the digital world carefully, dragging their real-world values into their online world, they can impact the seeds which get placed in their subconscious to play their part, time and time again.
But the world of technology carries a curious and compelling magic spell, known as anonymity, where you can pretend to be someone or something else, and it’s here that the real trouble happens, for even the most innocent of children.
As parents we commit our lives to the safety of our children, to discipline, and values, good manners, life skills, and so on. We love them unconditionally, we’re exhausted at work, sleepless nights, the debates and heated arguments – all to enjoy an unparalleled feeling of love we have for them, and which we receive in return.
And then…. We give them a smartphone or tablet. We hand over the keys to a vehicle that they do not know how to drive, (and neither do some adults). We allow them to take a drive around the neighbourhood – no seatbelt, no learners licence – just a little guidance on the gears and brakes maybe, and before long they slip out and away into rush hour.
Advising therapists, Educating teachers, Helping Parents
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