My random observation while washing my hair and contemplating whether to wear the Fitbit today or not. . .

Parenting Then and Now:

My parents: “Now you listen to me. This is what you will do . . .”

My (boomers) generation’s response: “Don’t trust anyone over thirty. Question Everything. You’re not the boss of me. I can’t wait to grow up, go big, and go leave home.”

My generation’s turn to parent our own children: “I want you to decide, sweetheart. Whatever you want and feel about it is the right thing for you.”

My children’s generation’s (Y and Z) response: “Please tell me what to do.”

I’ve been thinking about a casual conversation I had with my youngest son over the holidays. My husband was pleased that I had gotten him a Fitbit for Christmas. I already had one, and my idea was that this investment in our health would add motivation to our personal fitness goals. I also knew that I rarely wore mine, and when I did, I ignored its cheery prompts to get up and move. So my son and I were discussing the impact that these technological devices had on behavior. My stance was: Very little. His: A lot.

The reason? He explained that my generation grew up without “technology” so to speak. We were free to roam the neighborhoods, filled with other kids who were also roaming around, until the street lights came on. We’d ride bikes, roller skate, make clubs, and build forts. If there were enough of us, we’d gather players to make up a ball game in our cul-de-sac. We’d choose captains, choose sides, and play fair with no adults in sight. That’s a lot of decision making.

His generation (Gen Z) grew up with personal handheld computer-y devices. They think nothing of being attached to an inanimate object, whereas I am chronically looking for my phone that I set down somewhere in the house hours ago. (“Honey, will you please dial my phone?”)

His generation is accustomed to using handheld devices in all aspects of their lives. They know how to use these tools very well, and slowly, I might add sneakily, these tools have made themselves indispensable to his generation.

I used to memorize important phone numbers, and look up addresses in the phone book. I used to wrangle with foldout maps. I looked to myself to navigate and direct my day. My son’s generation lets devices do that decision making for them. For that reason, he says things like Fitbits have a great influence on behavior. If it suggests that they stop, drop, and do twenty pushups, then they will stop, drop, and do twenty pushups.

Me? I’ll keep on sewing.

Playing around with Clue #6 of Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery – “Frolic”

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