“I thought the dog was just twerking.”

We had a very full weekend over Labor Day: a house full of kids and grandkids with a side of plenty of mayhem and fun, even though the weather took a crapper. We have always used the no tech at grandma and grandpa’s rule so no tablets, phones, tv, YouTube, etc to allow us more time to talk, bond with each other and PLAY OUTSIDE! It’s a marvelous idea in theory. It encourages ten times more interaction than we would normally have. It is a double-edged sword however, because YOU also have to be willing to put tech aside, pay attention, and engage because you have just assigned yourself the role of main entertainment, which was formerly handed off to a barrage of impersonal, widely variable, non-censored electronic input.

So, now that the kids have your full attention and you have theirs, get ready for some unpredictable fun. When you are fully engaged, you can really get a sense of the full extent of their childhood innocence in some areas, and where they have had way too much exposure to the world in others.

We were sitting around the living room the other day and one of our dogs begins unceremoniously humping the other one. They seem to always wait until we have a full complement of company before they do this. Of course, we yell stop like we have never seen it before. Then my granddaughter says. “You know, I used to think the dogs were just twerking when they did that.” At first I am relieved that her first thoughts at 11 didn’t go to sex as a possibility. But, then I realized wait? She thought they were twerking? Where did she see that? How does she know what twerking is? Maybe her childhood innocence is not so intact after all.

What is childhood innocence anyway? This refers to the simplicity of children, their lack of knowledge and a purity that is not spoiled by the world just yet. They are ignorant of life and death. They are ignorant of sexual relationships, etc. They believe that anything is possible because their imaginations soar unchecked. It is heartbreaking in a way because once it is gone, they can never go back. It is a quality of ignorance that we visciously eschew as adults. We tell ourselves that we must have infinite knowledge and awareness of everything, which leads to depression and anxiety, overthinking and over analyzing.

So, if we know this is the ultimate outcome, why are we in such a hurry to overexpose our kids to the world at such a young age? Without supervision, they can access things on social media that would shock me even now! Stuff on TV or in movies is full of violence, drugs and sex. It is a totally un-censored barrage. We need to pay attention to what is filling our kids’ minds. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. So, let’s all put down our phones, turn off the tv, and put the tablets away at least for a little bit every day. You won’t regret it.

Dr. Katz

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