Digital Mastery: Parents, You Have the Power!

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace My main concern in this exploration is the effect of digital dependence upon our social intelligence. You see, fostering robust development of the brain circuitry responsible for social intelligence is a key focus of Parenting for Peace. Self-regulation and inner mastery are key themes in this endeavor of raising a generation of peacemakers.

From where we sit in today’s volatile world aswirl in disasters both natural and manmade, these words from the early pages of my book are chillingly relevant:

Many fields of research tend to affirm that we humans are indeed at a crucial moment in our evolution, and our survival is going to depend upon our realizing, deeply, that our true security is rooted in connectedness, in our relationships, in healthy interdependence with our fellow humans and with our natural environment.

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceWe are designed — right down to our neurobiology! — to be in close contact with other humans, and to our natural world… and yet our most coveted technological wonders… these tiny devices barely larger than a deck of cards… are undermining our natural instincts and even our ability to be with others or in nature.

The quiet pleasures of the natural world and the slow pace of unmediated, tech-free human conversation have been eclipsed for many by the whiz-bang instantly-gratifying stimulation — and the accompanying dopamine — provided by the accelerated, exaggerated intensity of online engagement. Before long, nothing else will do. But the cruel irony, as mounting mental health statistics illustrate, is that these preferred “new and improved” interactional pastimes leave our instinctual need for interaction unmet. And we suffer.

Be Your Own Boss, Cultivate Mastery

I think it has become clear over these past months’ of posts that our digital devices have the power to influence the circuitry of our brains… if we allow it to happen. Remember that funny toddler saying, “You’re not the boss of me!”? If not for yourself, then for the sake of your children’s deep, lifelong wellbeing, I encourage you to embody the spirit of that declaration when it comes to your own digital devotion.

At the end of her sobering Atlantic Monthly article about how smartphones are (mostly negatively) affecting today’s young generation (spotlighted in my last WW post), psychologist Jean Twenge ends with a simple prescription: “Some mild boundary-setting could keep kids from falling into harmful habits.”

Let’s begin that with ourselves as parents, as teachers, as adults to whom children look. The same neurobiological design that wants us to be in connection with other humans made it so that the most potent means of learning is through watching the example of elders. My dear colleague Laura reminds us of how this might inform (reform??) our digital devotion and inspire mastery over our choices: Modeling digital mastery for children

The Power of Example: Mirroring Mastery

One big challenge is that everywhere we look, digital dependence is modeled, encouraged and abetted. Images like this one, normalizing a family completely entranced by screens — a screen for each person — surround us!

I tackle this whole ball of wax in my “5 Tools” program, and here’s an excerpt (from Tool #5, The Mirror). I struck me as relevant to include here. This 2 1/2-minute clip highlights the how technology, attachment and social intelligence are inextricably connected. A simple yet effective way to begin some “mild boundary-setting” is with these 2 great guidelines for digital mastery.

Start there. Start anywhere.

Does Siri Thwart Social Intelligence?
Hands Free Mama

If you’re interested in my “5 Parenting for Peace Tools for Transforming” program, you can get all the info here. Because I’m currently in the process of moving the course over to my new teaching home at New Earth University, it is temporarily being offered at a crazy-low, “bargain basement” price!

Mom & daughter photo by London Scout on Unsplash
Family image from Earthlink webmail

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

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