This school year (16-17) has been a tough one for many of my friends who have children in high school and college. I’ve seen at least three college Freshmen drop out partway through the year. Two of those kids attempted suicide. All of those kids said they couldn’t handle being there––that it was too overwhelming.
I’m not going to presume to take the role of psychiatrist, but speaking as a person and a parent––the world has changed.
So many parents (including me) complain that their parents never told us to do our homework and we got it done. The unspoken here is: Aren’t we amazing? Aren’t they lazy? But are they? The world has changed.
There is information available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. When I was growing up, the only thing available that much was the L.L. Bean store in Freeport Maine and we were fascinated by that. “How do they know how to close if there’s an emergency?” we wondered. “You mean they like, never, close?” And now it’s not just one store. The world has changed.
I have a tough time getting my writing done because of Facebook notifications and emails to answer, and I get paid to write. Imagine how tough it is to have work to accomplish, alone in your dorm, and no one is paying you and no one is watching you. You miss one assignment because a new episode of your favorite YouTuber is out. You miss another because Lizzie is livestreaming doing her laundry and it’s. just. so. funny. Now you’re two assignments behind and there just isn’t time to catch up and you can’t exactly tell your professor the reason. You’ll sound like an idiot. The world has changed.
We need to accept this change in the world. We need to give direct instruction on how to curate what’s important and block out white noise. We need to show kids which apps help them block out social media and distractions. This needs to be happening sooner rather than later. Kids need to be monitoring their own time starting in middle school.
This year I took the learning management system apps my son’s school uses off my iPhone despite the school asking me to keep a close eye on my son’s assignments. It’s not my job and the sooner he realizes this, the better he will manage his time when he is on his own in college.
Here are some apps you might want to use yourself before sharing with your children.