A Letter from a Father to their Daughter
Let’s go lo-tech to better understand hi-tech
Some say life’s a box of chocolates.
I rather think it’s more like a Rubik’s Cube — The twists, the turns, the numerous moves you can make — Right? Wrong? — It takes some working out and frankly, I’m still trying!
You’re 12 — soon to be 13.
Over the years I’ve watched as you’ve grown and changed — First taking small tentative steps, and then then as you’ve become more assured, &, confident in yourself, exploring, probing, questioning and disrupting the world around you.
That world though has been growing and changing along with you and perhaps at an even greater pace.
An Age of Great Acceleration
We increasingly live in an interconnected world — By 2020 there will be over 50 Billion connected devices globally — & the past decade has seen a dramatic rise in the speed and scale of these interdependencies.
Without doubt, we now live in an age of great acceleration.
Everything has just got faster and slicker — Transport, communication, the iteration of ideas, their creative applications, and economic and social change.
Whilst the pace of technological change — How we access stuff — How it serves us — & what social protocols govern our interactions, has perhaps been faster still.
But this is not me writing to you as a grumpy old dad, or a technological luddite — in fear of the modern world — out of touch — disconnected. I don’t live in no cave!
Although, I do admit I’m stumped by Twitter acronyms, bemused by Snapchat — Say What… & I would never dream of Instagramming my breakfast.
Also, what does an ‘Online dating Coach’ do? But don’t answer that, it’s above your pay grade!
I’d like to think that I’m in the same part of the ball park as Steven Spielberg here, who says:
“Technology can be our best friend, technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives”.
And it can Poop in all manner of ways
I know that already your phone is more than a toy to you — It’s a life-support system.
And I understand that you will be under enormous pressure, and not just from social media and your peers, but also from television, films and magazines, to adopt a series of values that are different to mine.
It would be tempting to leave you alone when you’re quiet in your bedroom of an evening — but you know I won’t.
I can’t expect you to self-regulate yet — at 15, or 16, I hope yes — but not at 12, and you already have mood swings that I know are the direct result of on-line interactions.
Did you know that one-in-6 children in the UK are unhappy at the age of 15?
That the modal onset for depression is now 13 years of age and by 2030 the World health organisation forecasts that Mental Health issues will dominate global health spending.
So, I’m introducing a phone curfew from 8pm every evening. Starting now!
Hardcore? Maybe — But actually I’m behind the curve here.
The family peeps at Apple, Facebook, Google et al, have all been limiting screen time and access to other technology for their children, for some time now.
In part to protect them from the risks of on-line bullying, pornography and what hours and hours of unchecked screen surfing might do to a developing mind.
They take it all very seriously, and any form of screen is banned from bedrooms, whilst children under 10 are limited to between 30 minutes and 2 hours at the weekend, and 10–14 year olds are only allowed access to screens on school nights to do homework.
Perhaps, but cyber-bullying is very real and the Web is vast and can be a very dark place.
I don’t think though that it’s acceptable any longer for the tech giants to maintain that the web is too big for them to police and that they are merely digital platforms, rather than publishers and therefore bear no responsibility for the content on their sites.
Pirated content, pornography and Jihadist recruitment videos should be removed, and removed Now!
But until then — & perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath — any parent should stand-up and be counted.
I want you to understand that concepts such as trust, honesty, integrity, showing respect to others and kindness to those less fortunate and capable than yourself, are the building blocks of a healthy self-regard and a ‘Well Society’.
Pro-social behaviour is the corner-stone of wellness, wellbeing and well doing
You have a unique and wonderful future that will be a gift to the world. I don’t want you to be pressured, or bullied into being someone or something you’re not, just so you can fit in.
Neither do I want you to feel any responsibility to address the ills that lie at the door of my generation: The financial crash; the failure of governments to achieve international understanding and defeat terrorism; the consequences of climate change.
No. I want for you what the Russian poet Pushkin wanted, when he wrote:
“Blessed be those who in youth are young”.
With much love…”
Dedicated to Georgina Mudd b. 25.9.2004
Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change, leadership excellence, business growth, organistional and individual wellbeing and well doing, and introducing Mindfulness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd