Kids Find Balance Between Online and Offline Life

March 2, 2009 at 11:55 am 5 comments

facebook-and-lent

Last week I posted this article about an increasingly popular choice for individuals to give up Facebook for Lent on where else?  My Facebook wall.  I had a few responses come in, but I was most interested in the comments from one of my teaching friends about her daughter’s “(Julie’s”) experience choosing to giving up some of her connectivity in observance of Lent.  

I have several takeaways from this exchange, the first being that Julie identifies that text messaging and MySpace usage are significant enough in her life that she considers them valuable sacrifices in observance of her religious tradition.  My second realization is the flipside of my previous, being that while high-tech interactions are common and an integral part of teen life, Julie was also comfortable using other means of communication, as were her friends.  

In my mind, there’s an analogy here to camping: most people choose to go camping because they enjoy the experience — natural surroundings, change of pace from city life, a reminder of the importance of balance in our lives.  Camping for a few days can be a great time, but not too many of us would opt to leave our climate controlled homes for life in a nylon tent.

Julie’s breaks from MySpace and texting are much like going camping — an opportunity to find that balance and peace that often comes with unplugging ourselves for awhile.  While Julie’s commitments to abstain from MySpace and texting throughout Lent are longer than I would personally prefer to go camping, they are great opportunities for her to participate in a spiritual practice she finds meaningful as well as take a break from being totally wired.  

With many noisy critics complaining about the all-consuming nature of online connectivity for today’s tweens and teens, Julie’s decision is a great example of kids seeking out some balance for themselves.  I’ll hit her mama up for more information of how this year’s commitment went after Easter!

(Conversation reprinted with permission from Julie’s mama and names changed for Julie’s privacy — thanks Julie’s Mom!)

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Entry filed under: Communication, Kids, Learning, Opportunities, Parents, Social Media, Social Networks, Youth. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Beth Carls  |  March 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    This mirrors exactly what we’ve seen over the past few years talking with teens and tweens. Many times, we as adults, make assumptions about how the online world is affecting kids – and it seems most of the time it’s from a negative perspective. A lot of times what we don’t understand we are afraid of. I think this is very true with parents of totally wired teens.

    Many teens and tweens have improved their communication skills. Since they are offline for 8 hours at least during the day when they’re at school, most do have a healthy balance between online and offline in my experience.

    Reply
  • 2. Amy Looper  |  March 10, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Hey Amy I totally agree. This post is a great and a reminder for adults to “ask” rather than simply “assume”. Looking forward to the mom’s feedback post after Lent!

    Also, this post strikes me as a great door opener for parents to leverage to initiate a conversation with their kids on the topic of their usage. I’d love it for some youth to reply to this post as well. Maybe you can get Julie to respond along with a couple of her friends!

    Reply
  • 3. Lisa Parker  |  March 11, 2009 at 12:44 am

    I’ve been thinking about this post for a week now and realizing just how tough it would be to give up FB! I was fine with out it for the first 4 decades of my life but it suddenly seems an imperative. Must be that I am gaining something from it. And I am — connectivity with family and friends hither and yon that I would not otherwise be tapped into in a familiar way. As awe struck as I am at the way FB has completely infiltrated my life, I imagine Julie might find that going without it also has some pleasant surprises. Would love to hear from her on that.

    I echo what Beth and Amy have said about not misreading young people. We can get carried away with our assumptions about what “kids these days” are up to — especially on-line– and miss the fact that many are using the new technology responsibly.

    Thank you for this perspective, Amy!!

    Reply
  • 4. Amy Strecker  |  March 11, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Thanks so much for your thoughts, Lisa! I too, would be hard pressed to go so long without Facebook!

    Reply
  • […] 18, 2009 In early March I wrote about “Julie’s” choice to give MySpace up in recognition of the Lenten season, and as promised I followed up with Julie’s mom to see how things went.  You’ll find […]

    Reply

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