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Future Proofing Our Teenagers

You may not realize it, but we’re in the middle of a revolution. Not the French or American kind, but the technology kind. And for parents of teenagers, this means thinking beyond immediate concerns and more about the future.

A BIT OF HISTORY

First came the agricultural revolution when large-scale farming led to more organized food production. This meant that individuals no longer had to grow all their own food to survive.

Then came the industrial revolution which led to mass migration to the cities to find employment.

Both of these resulted in massive social unrest and adjustment. But, over time, people and societies adapted to create positive outcomes.

WHICH BRINGS US TO…

Now we have the third revolution – the technological revolution. And it’s happening much faster than the first two!

Many parents are legitimately concerned about their children’s engagement with new technology. Unfortunately while they’re trying to deal with drips in the ceiling, they may be ignoring a potential tsunami about to hit. We don’t really know how this technology revolution will impact on society and jobs. We don’t really know whether what students are learning at school will help them succeed in this brave new world.

PREPARING FOR THE UNKNOWN IS POSSIBLE

Parental concerns about the side-effects of social media are understandable. Risks associated with bullying, sexting, sexual predators, gambling, addictive gaming, and pornography are enough to keep most parents awake at night. But how many are concerned about preparing their kids for a changing future?

Developments in new technology might be compared with the evolution of new species. They appear, seemingly out of no-where with new apps, new hardware, new capabilities. Some reproduce really fast and become the ‘next new thing’ whereas others wither and die on the vine. Advances in robotics bring new opportunities and new challenges. Advances in virtual reality will change schools and universities. There are threats to privacy and personal security. And climate change threatens life on earth itself.

But we can teach our kids the importance of things like being optimistic, developing emotional resilience and self-reliance, and having a growth mindset.

THOSE WHO ADAPT SURVIVE – AND THRIVE

How can parents help to prepare their children for this world? The characteristic common to successful civilizations is adaptability. In the past, those who successfully adapted to change went on to survive and have children. They passed on those ‘adaptive’ genes to the next generation.

So what can parents do? Embrace change! Join with your teenagers in exploring these new developments. Try them out together. What do they offer? Who do they benefit? What’s next? This is no time to ignore dangers in the hope they’ll go away. Rather, we need to find a balance between preparation and training, avoiding potential threats as much as possible, and learning to go with the flow. It’s an exciting time for parents and teenagers to share in this new world together.

As parents we may not get to see what’s around every corner. But we can promote a sense of exploration and optimism in our children that will help them, no matter what the future holds.

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