There is no denying that today's young people are far different from any that we have seen. They are exposed to fast evolving technology, information at their fingertips and a social culture that challenges post-modern thought. With so many advanced technological opportunities, it's no wonder that we don't talk anymore.
As a mentor, what do you do with all this technology? Anything from video games, to texting, to social media, snapchat, twitter...what do you do?
Recently, a mentor was concerned that since his mentee got a smartphone, he was more interested in playing a game of FLAPPY BIRD than he was the planned activity. The mentor even said, "I could have just left you home with your phone."
What do you do? This is something that people haven't really had to confront in previous generations. We may not know how to approach a young person about technology etiquette; we may not have those social experiences with technology to say, "Hey. What you are doing is...(fill in your own frustrated 'no-no' statement)."
But...you are the positive and influential adult in the room and I am giving you permission. It's ok to set those boundaries to make the most influential impact on your time together. Trust me, I am a techie junkie, and I find myself entrenched in catching up with all my feedly blogs left to read when activities around me turn south. If I were a kid, I would be completely distracted with a shiny, moving, object on a digitized screen. I confess, I would need an adult to set my limits for me. (Kind of like Girl Scout Cookies for me today.)
Technology isn't bad, by any means. I argue that there are a lot of careers in the technology field--anywhere from the a statistical/algorthm programmer to being a gamer. Really, folks, I have two friends who make more than decent wages as gamers and game reviewers. This still blows my mind and it's a great gig when you can find the right games! (One really, truly does work in a dark room in his basement!) I also think a lot of problem solving and team building skills can be honed by playing certain types of video games and an appropriate mentor/mentee activity when played as a pair. No, technology isn't bad, but it should have it's limits, right?
So, what do you do when you find yourself shut out from your mentee by technology? Well...you set limits. "Hey, why don't we leave your phone at home when we are together today?" "You know what? I think you could play this video game after we are done with our time together. We planned on doing this today, we should really stick to the plan"
Sometimes that's all it takes. Caregivers can be helpful with this, too, and in my experience, they are looking for nontechie activities for their child, too. A great list for adults and kids on technology etiquette can be found in this article at huffington post. A lot of the suggestions are for parents and caregivers, but can be adjusted slightly for mentors. Check out suggestion #5, though.
Remember, it's ok to set limits and be frank about cell phones, media and technology. Like a lot of life, moderation is a beautiful thing.
TLK 2 U l8r
MENTORS...Join us at Bridges Kinship Mentoring on April 3rd - 12 noon - 1 pm for lunch and a frank chat about social media, techie rules and cyberbullying. We will meet in room 102. (Right next to the Bridges Kinship office.)
Please RSVP at bridgeskinshipmentoring
so we can provide enough food and Mentor Connects materials.