a book by Dr. Michael Osit
(our site's book review)
Osit, a psychotherapist, has written a helpful book about how parents can cope with the new, unique challenges posed by cell phones, the Internet, video games, and social networking sites like Facebook. Generation Text goes into considerable detail on how to handle these unique challenges so that our kids’ use of this technology can be a life asset rather than a liability.
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For many kids whose parents practice passive parenting and feel confused or overwhelmed by these challenges, the overall effect is sometimes negative, sometimes positive. Osit believes in using control, rewards, and punishments to cope with the situation in ways that he feels will best benefit the kids so they do not end up like so many kids today, with negative characteristics:
- No work ethic
- A sense of entitlement
- No sense of responsibility
- No idea of the value of money
- Morals and values gotten from media, Internet, ads, TV, movies, peers but not from family involvement
- No desire to do a good job and really accomplish something—doing okay and just getting by feels just fine
- No interest in their family
Values are gotten from media, Internet, ads, TV, movies, and peers but not from family involvement
The man has a point! It’s a crying shame than any of our kids are allowed to be so victimized by the technology and the media values. Where are their parents? Too busy working, too tired, absent, drunk, incarcerated, traveling, and so forth. If they have no time to nurture their kids, why have kids in the first place?
Their life plan seems to be to work hard and therefore have no time to nurture anyone so out of guilt they give their kids lots of expensive technology and the kids are supposed to sublimate their unfilled emotional needs into doing well in school or sports or socially or preferably all three.
That’s an absolutely TERRIBLE life plan! Parents don’t seem to relate to or understand what the kids are into and vice versa, so parents, rather than imparting values, morals, and life wisdom, supply technology that will effectively keep the kids out of their hair, and kids, rather than asking parents for help with their lives, are happy to get their info from peers, mass media, etc. The media impart values of hyper-materialism that influence kids to beg as much money from parents as possible to purchase an unending stream of techno-stuff, and then, later, cars, college money, etc.
Kids beg as much money from parents as possible to purchase techno-stuff, and later, they beg college money
Happily, some people do NOT consider the above debacle a good life plan! They know a fiasco when they see one. So they try to pass on the values their kids need, and they try to be involved in their kids’ lives in ways that transcend pressuring them to do well in school and sports. They monitor their kids’ use of the technology, including their Internet use, and they place reasonable limits on their use. But Osit tells us that few parents understand what they're up against so they don’t really understand what reasonable limits would look like. Hence this book. Another book, Your Children Are Under Attack, by Jim Taylor, as you can see by the title, feels that families are under attack so it’s time to circle the wagons, and for those of you who've never seen a John Wayne movie, that means defend your family from the popular media’s merciless onslaught! He, too, has a point!
Families are under attack so it’s time to circle the wagons—defend your family from the popular media’s merciless onslaught
Short of wagon circling, what can parents do? Osit has lots of valuable info about this, as well as good examples. There's little doubt that Generation Text and Your Children Are Under Attack should be in parental arsenals to fend off the onslaught.
Proactive parenting deserves respect if for no other reason than it shows many parents actually care enough to try to mitigate the damage the media and technology are doing. Reactive parenting, probably the more usual type, reflects not so much a lack of caring as a lack of courage to take steps to deal with the huge challenge parents face.
Reactive parents look at their pregnant teenagers and throw up their hands in frustration
Reactive parents look at their pregnant teenagers and throw up their hands in frustration. Ditto when they encounter their thirty-year-old “kids” who still live at home, the lectures from cops who they hand over money to to bail their kids out of jail, and the mounting bills they face as they pay for everything for their “entitled”-feeling kids, who not only don’t offer to earn money to pay for anything they get, they don’t even believe that they should have to. John Wayne would probably say something quaint like “that’s a hell of a way to run a railroad.” And we would surely agree.
Entitled-feeling kids don’t offer to earn money to pay for anything and don’t even believe that they should have to
So how DO parents “run a railroad”? Osit tells how. We concur entirely with his goals of rescuing family life and children’s values from the clutches of media and peers and helping kids learn how to use their technology wisely and responsibly so it helps empower their lives, as opposed to corrupting it. Kudos to him and all parents who are throwing open their windows metaphorically and hollering “I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!”
The media are distorting our kids' values—throw open your window and holler that you're fed up!
As mentioned, Osit's goals are irreproachable. But . . .
And it’s a big but, J.Lo notwithstanding. We have to take issue with the overall parenting method. He considers it Democratic. Yet he's using control, rewards, and punishments. That’s actually NOT democratic. It’s a combination of authoritarian and authoritative, the way he does it.
It’s no surprise that he is using behaviorist conditioning tactics, since the two most likely things to predict about psychologists these days is that they advocate behaviorist tactics and behavior modification drugs, and Osit is a psychologist, and from what we can tell, a good one.
Osit uses behaviorist conditioning tactics—which were developed by reductionistic behaviorists utilizing mice and Skinner Boxes
For parents who subscribe to the goal of controlling kids, Osit is the way to go. For parents who subscribe to the use of rewards and punishments, go with Osit. For the rest of us who've read the research and understand what’s amiss with these methods, use this book as a Bible for confronting the vital issue of technology’s and the popular media’s potential for corrupting your kids and ruining your families but do NOT use his parenting method!
The use of rewards and punishments to get obedience is appropriate for dog training, not for child raising
Control is NOT a good child-raising goal. Rewards and punishments are NOT good ways to motivate kids. Use the Democratic, authoritative parenting methods of the following instead:
- Aware Parenting
- Connection Parenting
- Discipline Without Distress
- Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.)
- Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting
Use the methods in place of the Osit method, which implies it is Democratic, but then advocates all three of these methods: autocratic, democratic, and permissive, depending on the individual child’s personality! Can you image the chaos and confusion if you tried to use these three methods in one family because of varying temperaments in the kids? Anyway, calling something democratic does not make it so.
Parents need not unilaterally impose limits (except for safety issues). They can problem-solve with their kids and arrive at an agreement about limits. Therefore the kids are much less likely to rebel against the limit. Parents can respond to unwanted behavior with redirection, distraction, substitution, changing the environment, and problem-solving without the need for rewards and punishments, which have been proven to fail, except with animals. The worst aspect of the way these fail isn't even about behavior. It's about failure to engender autonomy, self-control, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Kids are already too prone to be other-directed seekers of approval because of Facebook, etc. Using rewards and punishments is likely to cast this other-directed seeking of approval in stone.
Using social networking sites and having parents that use rewards and punishments encourages kids to form false selves rather than real selves
See any of the Democratic parenting methods referred to above for how to deal with the parenting of Generation Text kids (all kids today). But use these methods in MCs, since only MCs (microcommunities) can get anywhere near a total solution to the optimal childcare we all want for our kids. See Why Register for an MC?.
Registering for MC search and match
But, as we've said, use this book as a Bible for confronting the vital issue of technology’s and the popular media’s potential for corrupting your kids and ruining your families. Just replace the control and punishment and reward stuff with acceptable democratic/authoritative methods in MCs.