Whitefield Academy Blog
Rethinking Technology: The AOL Generation
We got the internet when I was in seventh grade.
I remember because it was the same day as Jake Waxman’s bar mitzvah. I also remember that my shirt hadn’t finished drying, and I had to wear a slightly damp shirt to the service.
Between the bar mitzvah service and the bar mitzvah party, I went home and set up AOL through my parents’ dial-up internet. I gave myself a screen name on AOL Instant Messenger (icthus713) and immediately had instant access to all my friends…as long as no one needed to use the phone.
But this was just the beginning. New tech began to flood in on a monthly basis: music and video streaming, iPods, internet that didn’t require a phone line, Google, cell phones with text messaging, cell phones with cameras, MapQuest, Xanga, and finally, my senior year of high school, Facebook.
It really is humorous to think back to the times when I would sit and wait for my AOL dial-up to connect. But this technology reflection also makes me nauseous. My five-year-old doesn’t know life without internet in the house. She doesn’t know life without internet in my pocket. If we’re impressed with how quickly things changed in the tech world from 1999 to 2005, that’s nothing compared to what they’re like now.
We had no idea of the serious detrimental impact that social media would have on teen and tween girls. We had no idea that internet in your house would mean free pornography at all times. We had no idea that phones in our pockets would lead to phones in front of our faces for 8 to 10 hours a day. We had no idea because it happened so quickly.
2005 was 14 years ago. In another 14 years, my youngest will be starting college.
What in the world is going to billow out of the tech world in those next 14 years and how are my husband and I going to navigate it?
I couldn’t be more grateful that our girls attend a classical Christian school that recognizes the opportunity as well as the danger that technology brings. Whitefield Academy in Kansas City is teaming up with START, a program designed to help parents navigate the technological waters in a proactive and purposeful way. Besides the interactive seminar that they will be hosting for our community, they have a slew of helpful blog posts on everything from how to help your kids hop off technology to hard stats about our kids and tech.