I came across an article titled “Parenting dilemma in the digital age” the other day.
As the title suggests, basically the article discusses the dilemma of parenting nowadays with the proliferation of digital and mobile devices, and how we manage the children’s expectations and “wants” to these stuff, especially coupled with peer pressure. In this case, the writer discusses Pokemon Go, a game which seemingly most of her son’s classmates are into (not surprised, I was playing it for a while myself too) and how he became the outcast because he has yet to play the game (because mummy didn’t allowed him to).
This is a common problem in today’s world. Or rather, today’s developed world. In societies nowadays where mobile devices are extremely common, and kids as young as seven owning their own iphones, what else is rare?
To be honest, this is a parenting dilemma and there is no wrong or right answer. It depends entirely on your parenting method, your comfort level and how you wish to communicate to your child.
What really drew me to this article, was this line “As I held my first-born close, I quickly diagnosed the problem: peer pressure. From what I gathered, the cool kids in his class tend to be the early adopters, boys who are always the first with the latest toys, games and gadgets.”
Well, it seems like this is a problem for most privileged kids. I bet this problem doesn’t exist if you are in the villages in Ethiopia. Maybe it does, but not so much about the gadgets.
Anyway, it all boils down to one thing. Comparison.
You are surrounded by individuals with the coolest toys, the latest gadgets, and the nicest clothes. Wow… you would love to have them too.
But wait, you have pretty cool toys yourself, gadgets that aren’t that old, and your clothes aren’t that bad too (they are not torn nor tattered at the least). I guess it still pales in comparison perhaps because their peers owns the latest model which emits light (whatever, just a random function I can think of) and yours doesn’t! Gasp!
Kids, even adults, want the cool stuff for ourselves too. We want to own them too when we see others have one. It’s understandable in a way. We always strive for better, don’t we?
That happens because we have a comparison of what is better.
What if we have a comparison with those that has less than us?
What about the kids in the orphanages in Cambodia? Or those living in the slums in Philippines. Or those who are child labourers at the age of 10, earning meagre wages?
You see, the point is, our kids are not exposed to kids like that. They do not see how lucky they are to own what they already have.
They don’t get to see that there are many others, who has much less than them, who don’t even have a proper study table, who don’t own as many educational books as them, nor even the chance to attend fun supplementary lessons.
Simply put, they are not in an environment where they are aware of how privilege they are.
Perhaps the next time before we decide to take them to another exotic country for a holiday, it would be nice to shortlist some of the more unconventional places instead. What about short stint in Thailand with the orphanages, bringing your kids there to share their toys, or giveaway books that they don’t use anymore?
They will learn to give, increase their self-awareness, and I think the post important lesson of all – they are in a position to see privilege and under-privilege, and developed an awareness of what and who they are and yet at the same time, a compassion and empathy for others who are in a lesser position than they are.
Perhaps then the next time, rather than harping about why they do not have the latest iphone, they might just think about their little friend back in Thailand who probably owns just 1/10 of what they have and how much luckier they are in that aspect. Hopefully 🙂