Thursday, March 26, 2009

Internet Phobia: What Behavior Are Parents Modeling for Their Children?

The internet and all the myriad possibilities that accompany it are here to stay. So why do many adults think it is a badge of pride to declare "I don't do anything on the internet"?

This week I sat in the waiting room of a doctor's office explaining Twitter to a 15-year-old boy who liked my Google phone on which I was checking my Twitter account.

Out of one ear I could hear the boy's father proudly declaring to another waiting room patient how he has nothing to do with the internet and how he thinks the internet is ruining his kids' abilities to do whatever (I missed that part of the conversation).

Later I thought about what teens are learning to do and what they aren't learning to do. And I realized that Twitter actually is a very good teaching tool for learning how to write brief and to-the-point messages.

I actually revise my 140-character tweets more carefully than I revise my blog posts because those 140 characters are out there for anyone to see. Plus the message is short enough that many people actually read my tweets.

And another thing about that overheard parental conversation. What kind of behavior modeling are parents doing when they announce they've closed their minds to learning new technology?

Thus when a teen announces she's not going to undertake a new activity being pressed upon her by a parent, what "coinage" does that parent have to insist she be willing to at least try?

This last year I've spent learning internet marketing has been incredibly worthwhile -- and, yes, incredibly frustrating also when I don't immediately "get" something. But the rewards of learning new information -- of eventually "getting" a new concept -- far outweigh the frustration.

If you're one of those parents going around "bragging" that you don't use the internet, perhaps you should look at yourself in the mirror and smile -- and then ask your teen to be your guide in cyberspace.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. She also blogs at Mrs. Lieutenant and Operation Support Jews in the Military, and she is the co-host of the BlogTalkRadio show Your Military Life. Her company Miller Mosaic LLC builds call-to-action websites for book authors and small businesses.

No comments: