Our Children Lives Secret Lives Online. What Are They Really Connected To?
What does the British East India Company have to do with how we raise our kids? First let me describe what I see as a disturbing new norm, then I’ll tie in the historical parallels to the title. “Education is fundamental to sustaining an advanced society.” That is the mantra we have had drilled into us for decades, no society can function without it in the modern world.
And we have adapted our lives to that concept as we have formed milestones and rituals around the 13 years we require kids to go to school.
In fact one argument against homeschooling I constantly heard was “you kids will be isolated, and school is a big part of their normal socialization” when we decided to homeschool ourselves. Our job was to find like minded families because it is true, kids need friends, family structure, social outlets and ways to experience the real world.
When COVID came along, what happened to that philosophy? It pretty much evaporated out of convenience to support the theory that isolation was critical to the survival of our society. Amazing when you think about how quickly we adapted the practice of keeping our children in complete isolation. Not only without friends but literally masking them and sequestering them from the world with reminders of “you may be sick and not know it – you don’t want to endanger grandpa, do you?” And it happened uniformly across the planet.
Think about just prior to COVID and your child’s experience in school. They engaged, they laughed, they had school plays, they got knocked on the playground. There was an online component that worried us parents, but their daily life meant they left the house and had to get in the mosh pit of real life with other kids and figure things out for themselves. Education required isolating our kids from our supervision, but we were assured that we had a system that would educate our children.
And notice what we substituted for the normal life of a child? More social contact online. In fact, we relied on Zoom and social media platforms to keep our children connected as though they were still on the playground. And it drove them into further isolation because our meager inkling that peer pressure was slightly amplified online has been proven to be correct beyond our nightmares.
Kids were trained to use technology as the sole source of education and as the sole source of recreation and maintaining relationships. Their eyes were flooded with blue light for far longer than under normal circumstances was considered healthy. Their sleep cycles were destroyed by the constant dopamine hit from hyper divided attention from chat, scrolling lists on hypermedia, memes, and online games. Agitated state of concentration.
And this has driven up the rates of suicide and depression dramatically. Group acceptance is done online. Conform or be cast out. Pretty simple message that can be delivered and enforced if all your friends are online seeing your failures, seeing you get called out for not fitting in. For being too heavy. For being the wrong gender. For being afraid of sexual practices. With this fear your children are vulnerable to influences that effect them without you ever knowing. And the fear of being rejected keeps them locked into this pattern of thinking.
That’s what they are learning today, and it’s instilling self censorship as kids are terrified of being rejected. Conformance guarantees a seat at the table. Remember before social media if you weren’t good at sports but you were good with your hands? You made things, you learned and you demonstrated that you didn’t need the group. Remember the kid who was quiet in school and then one evening you heard her play in the high school jazz band? They had skill. They found it through action they did in the real world, not under the constant surveillance of a group who could cajole and revoke membership from friendships. You developed talent, you experimented and in the process you made friends and gained confidence that life offered you opportunities – you’d miss out too much if you kept yourself locked away.
COVID forced isolation and the technology has forced further isolation as kids have remained lost in their secret lives online. And what skills are they building in real life?
I titled this article “The British East India Company Public School System” and you’d be right in asking why. The British East India Company is the first global corporation that brought the British into contact with many cultures. In that process the members of the East India Company marveled at the level of control that India’s ruling caste had over a large population. In the early 1750s India’s population was approximately 180 million people compared to Britain at around 6 million.
The Indian Caste system, a hierarchy, enforced behavior to a degree. But Andrew Bell, an British educator who traveled to India in 1789, noticed a practice used in Madras to educate and control behavior. The teachers taught a small group of children first, and then those students taught the remainder. The students were kept in isolation. Kids following their peers remained under control, education and conformity were achieved.
Large groups of children could be shown tasks quickly, and behavior more easily reinforced. The lesson: kids follow their peers more closely than when instructed by adults. Bell brought this concept back to Britain and eventually educators adopted this same technique. The British East India Company marveled at the level of monitoring that this system provided, as it would foster uniform skills in the labor force. Thus monitoring became a critical component of education, and the members of the East India Company considered this vital to modernizing society.
There is a direct analogy to what has happened online with our children. We allow a small group of kids to set a tone for the entire online community. Peer pressure is difficult to resist at a young age, and when your child derives their self-worth from how they feel they are perceived by their friends online, they will adjust their behavior to avoid being shunned or worse, targeted.
Think about that. That lays down a pattern that will shutter their minds, it will form an instinct to conform and not think. And like the Madras school, it is all monitored. Not by you as a parent but by the likes of Sean Parker, president of Facebook who publicly stated “we knew we designed this platform to create dopamine addiction, but didn’t know what effect it would have. But we did it anyway.”
So who is introducing the values that will carry your child through life, and should it be the likes of Sean Parker? His statement is in the video below.