Sad and true. I can't imagine being ten and awash in rapids of e-mail and competition socialtech. I see it in their lustreless eyes.
This sturdy sense of self and self-esteem, the start of a core identity, takes time to develop. It’s pretty amazing when you consider the difference between a first-grader and a fifth-grader. Day by day, kids need time to process their experiences intellectually and emotionally, to integrate new information with their existing body of knowledge and experience. They need time to consolidate it all so that it has meaning and relevance for them. Ideally, they do that with their parents and in the context of family and community. It happens in debriefing time after school over a snack with mom or dad, in extended-day with a teacher, a caregiver or with someone else at home. Dinnertimes when thoughts about the day are processed through family conversations that are supportive and nonjudgmental. Bedtime reading and rituals that offer a quieter space for reflection and an opportunity to bring the events of the day to a peaceful close.
Time for all this was more readily available in the predigital age. With unstructured play on the wane and immersed as they are now in media and tech through these formative years, our children have lost that protected time for reflection and conversation, especially with parents and family. Instead, they often plug in for the ride home from school, watching handheld screens, circulating pictures, texting, or e-mailing friends en route. By the time they arrive home, their social network has moved on to the next thing and they with it, still plugged in to the trending conversation with peers. Kids don’t get home from school anymore; they bring school—and an even larger online community—home with them.