I first got to connect with Adam McLane when we were driving through the Dominican Republic, and across the border into Haiti. It was only about a month after the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, and we were part of a youth ministry team that went down there (though as Adam points out, it was more like a bunch of youth pastors and me — a therapist). Over the course of those last five years I have had the opportunity to really connect and get to know Adam better, as well as speaking at his initial Youth Cartel event in 2012. Here you can see me talk about The Anxiety of Teenagers.
But in the last 5 years Adam has become one of the leading experts on youth and technology. In August of 2013, Adam’s expertise really gained attention when his blog post, Why You Should Delete SnapChat went viral, eventually taking shutting down his blog with all the traffic. But don’t mistake Adam for some kind of anti-tech Luddite, rather he is a very thoughtful, thinker on technology and how it shapes our lives. And one of the things I really like about Adam when talking to him about technology, is that he’s not one to just lay down rules and put tech tools into action, rather he really encourages the consumer of tech to think about how they use their technology, and how they can create “sacred spaces” and practice sabbaths in their lives.
In this episode Adam and I dive deep into the work of Danah Boyd, and more specifically her latest book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. It’s a great book, and Adam recommends that all parents buy the book, if only to read the first chapter. We also explore bullying and cyberbullying and how what takes place online is most often modeled offline.
We also explore the issue of trust between parents and kids, and talk about why Adam doesn’t recommend filtering or monitoring devices on computers. One of Adam’s concerns that he addresses is that too often parent’s turn over their parenting responsibilities to devices, rather than to help their kids think critically about how they engage technology.
This was a fun conversation, and ultimately, I think both Adam and I mourned a little bit the loss of a lot of the freedoms that we had as kids (taking off on our bikes and being gone all day; cruising; loitering, etc.), but that kids today don’t/can’t experience (Danah Boyd’s work explores this cultural shift).
This episode is for any of you who use technology (which is you if you are reading this). So whether you are a parent, or not, I highly recommend listening and discovering how you can more thoughtfully consume technology in your own life.
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NPR Podcast, Invisibilia: Episode — Fearless — which explored the work of environmental psychologist Roger Hart and his work around the issue of parenting and fear.