Reprinted from the Growing Up In a Digital World issue of Visions Journal, 2023, 18 (1), p. 4
While I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, the internet was only just beginning to establish a common household presence in British Columbian households. That funny garbled sound on the phone line when we wanted to connect to the internet opened up a vast new world of possibilities and connections. Youth who grew up in my generation connected with others through ICQ, Friendster, Myspace, AOL chatrooms and this new technology called email. Those who grew up in earlier decades adjusted to life with other technologies—now termed ‘traditional’ or ‘mainstream’ media—such as television and radio. These days, children and youth are growing up with a new plethora of digital technologies at school, home and play. From TikTok, Snapchat and Youtube to Virtual Reality, artificial intelligence and smart appliances, technology is mediating more and more of daily life.
Although today’s digital technology feels vastly different than the technology that came before it, many of the questions around growing up in a digital world are the same: How much is too much screen-time for children and youth? Are digital relationships just as fulfilling as in-person relationships? Is what they’re being exposed to safe? How do we navigate mental health and substance use concerns while living life in digital spaces?
In this issue, our contributors explore precisely these questions, and more. Our Guest Editor, Dr. Midori Ogasawara, explores what it means to unplug in an era when most of our relationships—to ourselves, to each other, and with societal institutions—are lived out online. Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd, shares tips towards living a healthier and safer digital life. Malcolm,* parent of a gifted son who lives with autism and ADHD, shares how and when screens can be beneficial in unique ways. In the teaser section for our next issue on Intergenerational Trauma, Ferma Ravn-Greenway shares some ideas on how to parent in an age where disaster media and “doomscrolling” is the norm.
I also wanted to alert you to a new change to Visions: we will now be experimenting with three longer issues a year instead of four. Given huge increases in printing and production costs, we’re moving to a more fiscally responsible model while still bringing you all of the same great mental health and substance use content in print and online. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me on this change by writing to [email protected].
About the author
Kamal Arora is Visions Editor and Leader of Health Promotion and Education at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division