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Techno junk separates teens from parents, says writer (Maggie Hamilton)

Technology can come between healthy parent-child relationships.

The Australian
3 August 2009

Techno junk separates teens from parents, says writer
By Stephen Lunn, Social affairs writer

Our children's entire life experience is being shrunk down to the classroom, television and computer games just at the time they need more emotional maturity to cope with the difficult choices facing them.

And parents, while aware of issues such as cyber-bullying, the impact of violent images on young boys' behaviour and the sexualisation of children at an ever younger age, are hopelessly ill-equipped to cope with the technology so influencing their children's lives.

The blunt warning comes from leading writer on children's issues Maggie Hamilton, who will tonight address a Young Media Australia seminar in Melbourne exploring the sexualisation of childhood, and girls in particular.

"Young kids have a rapidly diminishing life experience. They watch junk on TV or DVDs, they play computer games rather than interact with their community, with people of different ages, or with nature. Theirs is an increasingly manufactured fantasy world," Hamilton told The Australian.

"As a result, cognitively they are increasingly immature just when we're exposing them to things way beyond their age.

"And as parents we're frighteningly behind the eight ball because we just don't deal that well with the technology, phones, computers and the like," the author of What's Happening to Our Girls says.

"This is critical, because as a result kids at younger and younger ages see their parents as more and more irrelevant. Even at primary school they get that mum and dad are living in a parallel universe. They see their parents not being able to use a mobile phone or a computer the way they can," she says.

Even parents who believe they are "with it" don't understand the full extent of the battle for their children's minds, driven in no small part by advertisers looking for access to their parents' wallets.

"Parents say 'I've got the computer in a central place in the home', but their children still access pornography or X-rated text messages on phones, or their friend's phone or computer. Why are we so hopeless? Because the technological changes have happened so quickly, and because we're all too busy."

In the wake of the Senate's inquiry into the sexualisation of children in the media, the conference will examine whether any progress is being made.

Hamilton says parents should be prepared to use current events to engage their children on tricky issues before they arise in the child's own life.

"Take the Kyle and Jackie O situation. Don't be preachy about it, but ask them for an answer about how they might feel if they were a girl in that situation. When we do this we help them to develop the script for what they're going to say in their own tricky situations."


Article Assertion

And parents, while aware of issues such as cyber-bullying, the impact of violent images on young boys' behaviour and the sexualisation of children at an ever younger age, are hopelessly ill-equipped to cope with the technology so influencing their children's lives.

Not sure why boys are singled out here; girls can be affected and do engage in bullying, abusive and violent behaviour too.  Likewise, boys can also be affected by sexual images and sexualisation also; it's not just an issue for girls.

Like it not - stereotyping exists!

While it may be an uncomfortable reality, gender stereotyping exists.

And as happens with Adult violent behavior, the statistics say more men are violent than women so if becomes a "male" problem and to fix the problem we need to fix the males.

I would suspect similar logic applies to child and teens violence, whether physical or emotional.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
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