LIVING ON THE EDGE
The children of today are living on the edge in a society that is moving at warp speed. Our society and culture is constantly evolving and transforming and reinventing itself and in this Global village we now find ourselves in, we; the young of today children are constantly bombarded by a wide range of technology and impacted by cultural change. Modern affluent societies overflow with a range of goods produced for the entertainment, pleasure, convenience and education of our children.
Children are firmly in the sights of corporations with a barrage of marketing and advertising designed to capture this multibillion dollar market the question needs to be asked what is living on the edge really doing to us? We are living on the edge in the world of technology. Today’s new inventions are tomorrows trash as our fast paced throw-away technologically convergent consumer society gains momentum.
Media and technological innovations of the modern world command immense power in today’s society. A time capsule of the early twenty-first century would not be complete without a cache of paraphernalia.
Children could toss any number of technological wonders into the capsule since their pockets, backpacks, and homes are literally stuffed to overflowing with personal TV screens, digital music players the size of a pack of gum, cell phones with incredible technological capacities, satellite radios that beam down multiple channels from around the world, and video games that provide experiences that are ostensibly better than reality.
However todays technology is a pandoras box. Whilst the world is now at our fingertips and so many gadgets help us in our day to day life the question needs to be asked is living on the edge and having the latest gadgets really worth it?
The average Australian child now spends 40 hours per week in front of a screen. For a whole generation of children they will never know what it is like to living on the edge using the power of imagination, thinking and creativity the senses have been dulled by our technologically induced sedentary lifestyle.
For a whole generation of today’s children the pleasures of a free-range childhood are missing. Enjoying the pleasures of living on the edge in the great outdoors and the freedom and vitality that brings is sadly no longer a reality for many of today’s children.
For many children, play today is playing violent games, facebooking, twittering, surfing the internet, texting or watching The Bold and the Beautiful, This sedentary lifestyle is pushing our children to the edge when it comes to their health. Today the current generation of children is more stressed, less content and unhealthy physically, socially, mentally and spiritually than any other generation.
In a world that is on the edge of great medical and scientific break throughs, lifestyle diseases that only a few years ago were only seen in older people are now been seen in our children. Obesity, Diabetes, Heart disease and stroke are now common amongst our children.
The prevalence of convergent technology today creates many advantages for our youth. They live on the edge of instant communication Most now own a mobile phone where texting is now the new form of communication. While instant communication is an advantage, the down side is that many youth are compromised and demoralised through sexting and cyberbullying
In a fast paced society where image is everything, Many of our young are living on the edge in a surreal world where they can be whoever and whatever they like. Children can now create a virtual life or an avatar on screen and live their life in virtual reality. It is difficult for a child to find community and connectedness with another human being while playing video games alone, watching television, and surfing the Internet.
This brings about individuation separation and a loss of connectedness. Children are left feeling unloved and valueless and go over the edge into isolation, loneliness depression and suicide.
The loss of connectedness and significance leaves youths searching for something to dull the pain and numb the senses. Many weekends find youth living on the edge on our streets binge drinking, drug taking and experimenting with all sorts of intoxicating substance. The result is our youth constantly being driven towards and over the edge
Our school yards are living on the edge with almost daily reports in our news media relating to incidents of aggression and violence in our school yards, classrooms and shopping malls.
There is compelling evidence that repeated exposure to media violence found in many computer games and in other media contributes to aggressive behaviour, anxiety, and desensitization to violence (Kaiser Foundation, 2005).
Youth often arrive at school after spending the much of the night playing online games. Combine aggressive behaviour with sleeplessness and we have a problem. These young people are then downing one or two cans of highly caffeinated high energy drinks and for breakfast and resulting in many youth living on the edge of who knows where.
The popular media has assumed a major role in the development of youth. The time school-age children spend with the media exceeds the time they spend with their parents or teachers. The values that are found in much of media are often not the values we would want for our children and so intentional parenting is now needed more than ever
We need to acknowledge that we will always live on the edge when it comes to multimedia and technology so what can we do?
Parents should establish family rules that promote a healthy, balanced use of the technology and media until children learn to do the balancing themselves.
Parents need to be educated and learn with their children what the next big thing in technology is and discuss with their children these advances.
Parents need to monitor and filter internet content and be aware where their children are at.
Parents need to spend time with their children. Play together, talk, share family meals and be there for their children in the ups and downs that living on the edge brings to our young people today.
Parents need to ensure that media is consumed in public places in our households and that the wireless is turned off and unavailable at night and at significant family times and is never allowed in the bedroom.
When our children are confronted with violent media, the ill-effects of this media is ameliorated when the parent discusses the content with their children.
Today we are living on the edge of a brave new world, an exciting world full of many opportunities and excitement. This brave new world can be negotiated if befriend, mentor and educate our young.
Will you join me in living on the edge, will your talk to me, spend time with me? know my name, play with me, eat with me, mentor me and model what it means in life to be living on the edge?
If we do this together then living on the edge will be exhilarating, exciting and a real adventure. Join me on the edge.
Originally produced in 2011 by Andrew Pratt for Rostrum Voice of Youth and Morisset High School.
Andrew Pratt 2016