How many young people live with constant feelings of inferiority and discontent because their self-perceptions don't match the ideals presented in various forms of digital media? How many reach young adulthood extremely anxious about their ability to cope?
"I'm a loser in real life! The only time I'm not is when I'm online."
As they grapple with the already challenging task of understanding themselves in relation to the world, this dangerous theme pervades the lives of far too many children, teens, and young adults. When true and digital identities battle each other for emotional territory, kids can suffer painful conflict and develop understandable escape behaviors.
Many dive deep into the murky waters of the Internet and video game overuse where they feel calmer, stronger, and more accepted in the cyberworld than in their true relational one. The seeds of addiction are sown. Full-blown dependency looms just around the corner.
While it's sometimes necessary, taking away their devices addresses only the tip of the iceberg. Helping them feel confident within their own skin gets at the much larger portion below the water line.
Denial in epic proportions
One might argue that most parents in America are in denial over the impact of technology overuse on their children's identities. Teaching me to drive, both of my parents gave great advice: "Always assume someone is in your blind spot." Applying this to parenting, it's probably wise to assume that most of us have a "blind spot" when it comes to technology and our kids.
Helicopters and Drill Sergeants develop dependency
Chronic helicopter parenting creates insecure kids who doubt their ability to make good decisions and to succeed in the real world. So, does clinging to the drill sergeant model. Both styles are the enemy of healthy identity development, creating damaging anxiety and despair.
Consultants empower strength
Consultant parents empower their kids to make decisions, live with the consequences, and see that they are capable of coping. This style also preserves healthy parent-child relationships. Coping skills plus relationships serve as antidotes for depression and dependency.
We can't control others
At the heart of consultant parenting is the awareness that we can only up the odds of healthy identity development. We cannot ensure it. Sometimes highly ineffective parents end up with strong kids... and highly competent parents experience ones with big problems. What Love and Logic does guarantee is that we can face life knowing we've done our best.
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Charles Fay