In the 1800’s…

Children as young as 6 or 8 years old might work, they might run errands and make deliveries for a store keeper, or they may be apprenticed to a skilled craftsman or woman.1 Children knew the community and were a part of it. Members of the community knew each other well and worked together to fill the community’s needs. Often times, the community’s survival depended on it.

In the early 1900’s…

Electricity had not yet reached most rural communities. There were no refrigerators, rather iceboxes were kept in most homes. An icebox was shaped like a small refrigerator with a chamber for ice on the top and a food chamber on the bottom.2 My mother still calls our refrigerator an icebox as she remembers as a young child the ice being delivered.

By the end of the 20th Century…

Cars were widely used, we had radio, televisions, computers and the internet was being used by millions worldwide.

Now think about today. Life in the 21st Century. 2015.

Has technology changed our world for the better? For all of the positive outcomes of the last century, technology has not necessarily changed our world for the better.

There are many challenges that we’re just starting to realize:  

Youth can be narcissistic, self-absorbed, and driven by a materialistic, over attentive culture.

People are taking more than 1 million selfies (self-portraits, usually taken with a smartphone) every day. 3 Instead of asking a friend, family member, or stranger to be a part of their moment, they use a selfie stick. Many are looking outward for a sense of worth – likes on Facebook, re-tweets and YouTube views can warp their perspective.

An unbalanced relationship with technology can impede human engagement.

Today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices.4 Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors. 4

Have you ever said, “I’m so glad I didn’t grow up in the era of social media where every mistake I made would have been amplified?” I know I have. Being under a microscope is stressful and increases the challenges every child already faces in growing up.

Patricia Greenfield, a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA believes that technology is decreasing individuals’ sensitivity to emotional cues and that we are losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.” 5

Think of the happiest moments of your life, the hardest, the most rewarding: Was there a screen involved? How much value do you attribute to personal relationships?

Self-absorption and an unhealthy relationship with technology coupled with the daily stressors every individual faces can lead to mental health and substance abuse issues.

The following statistics are from the Impact DuPage – County assessment: Community Profile report:

  • Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the US adult population. It has been estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world. 6
  • Between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2014 there were 1,425 patient visits to the emergency room with chief complaint/discharge diagnosis related to heroin and/or opioid use. 6
  • 8% of emergency room visits for mental disorder include anxiety states, panic attacks, or acute reaction to stress as the chief complaint or discharge diagnosis. 6

As a mother of three children ages 10, 8 and 5 this is scary and concerning. What can I do to help my children be emotionally prepared for the world we live in? What types of skills do they need?



1 http://www.morsesociety.org/cpage.php?pt=11

2 http://web.missouri.edu/~campbellr/Book/Chapter06.htm

3 http://experience.usatoday.com/weekend/story/lifestyle/2014/06/19/your-digital-life-how-many-selfies-are-too-many/10936079

4 https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx#sthash.o2sUNEqJ.HlTU1zRr.dpuf

5 http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/in-our-digital-world-are-young-people-losing-the-ability-to-read-emotions