Last week I attended an amazing panel discussion on “Raising Millennials in the Digital Age”, superbly moderated by Rajeev Makhni. Panelists included Ms Sheetal Ansal – Trustee Ansal University, Ms Vaneeta Uppal – Director British School, Ms Ankhi Das – Director Facebook India, Mr. Saket Modi – Entrepreneur, Kalli Puri Vice Chairman India Today Group. Raising millennials’ in the digital age is critical and so is making aware their parents. This panel discussion was equally invigorating and addressing this important aspect.
The discussion was a boon for parents who are raising kids in these interesting/fun times. Never before in history, we’ve been so blessed with technology, our position in the universe, life expectancy etc, that we are today. However, blessings do come with responsibilities that we need to take up in the interest of our children, our future. Millennials’ as also mentioned by Simon Sinek & others are the ones that are born after 1985 - 90. They are the ones who understand technology, gadgets and we are the ones who provide them, yet we desist these gadgets in the hands of our children.
It was ironical to note when a panellist mentioned, that when students are about to pass out from college, they ask whether they will they be allowed to use mobile phones in office! This is so because these very students have been deprived to use them in their college/university. By doing this are we taking students back in time and not letting them progress? These days it’s the boy or the girl with the machine and not versus the machine! One should have access to the smartphone or tablet so searching for information is a lot easier. Ms. Das explained how we adults have survived the information starved times. But the critical question remains should we be providing everything (technology, gadgets etc) to our children or how should they be struggling for the same so they can value these things?
This is just not relevant for children/students but adults too. Teach them how to fish so they can live a dignified life. We have to give our children the confidence, we have to be facilitators in their zest to learn. Failing is often spoken as its something acceptable and the children take it that way. But hey does the corporate world also takes it that way too! Are we not preparing the kids for the industry, quipped Saket Modi? How do you think they will cope up? Panelists discussed the disconnect between parents & their children. But the technology gadgets can be a bonding factor between them. As parents we need to know what’s their interest, where they are inclined towards. Just follow that rather imposing your (parent’s) will on the children. You may have noticed how busy parents have made their children, doing loads of study or hobby classes each day/week. Are we giving children knowledge or simply putting them away from us for a period of time during the day? In my personal opinion, children choose us when they come into this world and we should attempt to spend maximum time with them at least in their formative years. Later on, they will be on their own, so why miss these moments of today.
In the panel discussion, everyone missed two simple points. Firstly, adults should be learning technology and secondly children starting an active vocation. If adults learn technology alongside their children, the benefits of digital age would be manifold. Correspondingly, there may not be the requirement of having such a panel discussion at all! Secondly, if the children are given an active vocation relevant to their learning, digital age, say 21st-century technologies (3D printing, robotics, coding, machine learning, big data etc) they will excel much more. This would diminish their chances of misusing technology, as we would have put a purpose to their learning, instilled an entrepreneurial spirit very early so the abuse, time wasting etc is somewhat restricted. Isn’t it human to value something which comes with hard work & effort? The gadgets that we give to our children are mostly out of love, affection, school’s requirement or because of peer pressure. Through the active vocation, the concern of parents about technology too gets addressed as they are learning alongside children, so they are not out of sync with the digital age. Instead of putting filters & website blocks they are actively surfing the web for what’s good & relevant in their child’s development, as one of the panellists also mentioned.
In the end, one has to be adaptable and on the lifelong learning curve, make the digital age a partner in progress, this way change will be much more acceptable & welcome to us adults. We cannot stop/prevent our children from the digital age, but best to guide them through what we call, the tech travails.
(Avikshit Saras the author is the Chief Ideator at I Print My Things which engages in 3D printing training & sales.)