Socially Responsible Investing and Our iChildren, Androidkids or Cybernanny

A possible art piece in the future: sketch by Ramona

Welcome to 2018: a year where those who have the largest shares in big companies like Apple Inc. (AAPL) are in a position to exert their self-proclaimed moral responsibility to address the astonishing rate at which humans are interacting with the computer processors on their smartphones and similar devices.

The Premise

The article released this past Saturday, January 7th by the Wall Street Journal reports that there is currently a push by some large shareholders in Apple that are calling for the company to make changes to their systems to help parents exert more control and limit phone usage. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend it: https://www.wsj.com/articles/iphones-and-children-are-a-toxic-pair-say-two-big-apple-investors-1515358834

Personal Past

I personally have written for years on this subject about the possible negative effects on our children and their interaction with digital technology and social media. At the end of this piece I’ll provide links to my past blog articles for context and proof that although I’m not a medical doctor, my experience as a mother of three children has weathered me into the philosophy I have on this general subject today.

The Short and Painful Truths

We’ve all been guinea pigs since our computers made the leap from the Oregon Trail game in green on the screen to the Internet on PCs to the smartphone on some of your wrists.

Somewhere along the way parents everywhere forgot that babies and children watch their caregivers and strive to copy them relentlessly. So while parents obsess over how many “likes” they’ve racked to their recent Facebook post or are scrolling through Pinterest ideas for dinner that night, their young are taking that in as normal behavior even when they are vying for their parents’ attention in the process. Even more alarming is that many parents may spend more time trying to “capture the moment” in forms of photo bursts, videos and vines than actual quality time conversing or participating in activities with their children.

I refuse to personally judge anyone in this area as I’ve made my own mistakes regarding this new frontier of instant messaging and phone calls at a touchscreen’s length. Instead I’m comfortable sharing my own personal journey as a way of giving some ideas to parents and caregivers that perhaps they can weave into their way of life — in turn helping the next generation have an idea as to how to navigate their own progeny in tandem with our technological advances yet to come.

Parents: Put It Away

This is a blunt heading and intentionally so. This is not easy and perhaps quite impossible for many people depending on their line of work. Thankfully there is the “vibrate” setting for most devices and which I use constantly.

Before you dismiss this idea entirely, do yourself a favor and think about how much time you actually interface personally on a daily basis with your child or children. The answers will vary depending on vocation and age of the children of course but the effect should warrant an honest assessment.

Here’s what I’ve learned in just under 10 years of being a mother myself to three children under the age of 10: they grow up quickly and learn even faster!

If you make it a point to interact with your child without the smartphone attached to the palm of your hand it will help them bond not only with you but also know how to engage with other humans.

The questions will come and with them your respective answers as it goes with the majority of parental interactions with their young — in my case, my older children have inquired as to why they don’t have phones. My responses to these repetitive questions are simple and hopeful. For example, I let them know that their father and I don’t see a need for it nor is it allocated for in our family budget. In addition, we believe they will have them one day in an even better model and aren’t missing anything in the meantime.

While investors are suggesting to companies about how their technology can be manipulated to help give parents control the reality is that the control is with the parents themselves all along.

People, Artificial Intelligence and Beyond

Guess what? We’re still all test subjects together as we progress in this whole new world of cyber-digital interactions and integrations with homo sapiens.

We’re talking about parental controls available on the iPhone platform and before we know it we’ll be reading psychologists’ research papers on the emotional integration of robot-nannies on our grandchildren one day.

To be sure we’re excelling in incorporating these new devices into our lives so quickly without knowing its effects until we become aware of the effects. Although we focus mostly on negative consequences, we should be fair and acknowledge where the technology has been very helpful for parents and kids alike.  For example, I recall a scratchy long distance land-line phone call to Greece with my great-grandparents whom I could hardly hear — our kids get to Facetime with their grandparents in California.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and need to read something that will assuage the fear of the unknown I reccommend “Abundance” by Peter H. Diamandis. It’s a helpful book with opening our mind to the possibilities of the good things that can come out of our digital evolution together.

Global Village Is Not the Front Line

Ever since the release of the World Wide Web late last century, the world has shrunk down to what is commonly referred to as the “global village”.

This shouldn’t be confused with the world that our children know when they are born and growing up in our homes. We as parents and caregivers are still their front line in seeing and interpreting the world around them.

In the end the moral responsibility still falls on us individually to make parenting decisions that we feel are right for our own offspring.

Blessings to all you out there raising children in the 21st century and beyond!

R.V.S.B.

P.S. As promised, past blog links of mine concerning children and cyberworld:

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"