The first part of the 21st century marks rapid changes in social values, similar to the changes that occurred in the first part of the 20th century. Families become more diverse. For the first time in history, large groups of people opt not to get married or have children. Technology makes entertainment and news even more accessible.
- Mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets, act almost like handheld computers. People use cell phones, not only to call each other, but to text, shop, get directions, take photos, keep notes, make videos, read books, listen to music, and even watch movies. These devices are tremendously helpful, but they can sometimes be a distraction. Accidents happen when people try to drive while using mobile devices. Cell phones and tablets can be addictive and interfere with face-to-face conversations. They also allow easy access to harmful content, such as pornography or violence.
- Video games are a favorite form of entertainment. Children and adults spend a lot of time playing these games.
- Education is changing. Many public school districts offer charter schools. Each charter school has a different educational focus. Some schools might focus on science, while another might focus on the arts. Parents and children can choose which school to attend. Homeschooling is a growing movement, with over 3 million children learning at home in 2013. More and more families are expected to homeschool in the future.
- As families become more affluent, many of them travel more. Expensive vacations, including cruises and trips to Disneyworld, Europe, or the tropics, are much more common. Some families, especially homeschooling families, travel the world as a means of education.
- Cultural values shift. Gay marriage is legalized and gay and lesbian people lobby for fair treatment. The idea of ‘gender fluidity’ emerges, which says that gender can change or encompass both male and female. Many people oppose this idea, including religious leaders, scientists, and doctors.
- Religious tensions increase as traditional Christians oppose abortion rights and gay marriage. Non-religious people view Christians as narrow-minded or prejudiced. Many Christians feel that they are losing their right to speak freely about their beliefs. Debates over religious freedom are common.
- Racial tensions heat up as white supremacist groups become more vocal. African-Americans rioted and protested against police violence. Several shootings in churches and public places targeted African-Americans.
- Social media platforms, such as Facebook, become a primary way for people to communicate and share news. Companies use social media to advertise their products. Politicians use social media to gain political favor.
- Accessible: easy to get
- Affluent: wealthy
- Fluidity: changeable
Questions and Answers
Question: How can I use technology wisely?
Answer: Great question. First, understand that just as your body needs nutritious food to be healthy, your mind needs good material to remain healthy too. Watching or listening to content that is violent and degrading can cause damage. Talk with your parents about how to choose wholesome music, videos, and video games. If you encounter pornography or violent images, turn it off and tell your parents.
Second, keep a balance in your life. Technology can be a wonderful way to learn new things, but it shouldn’t take the place of other activities. Make sure you play outside every day. Try to eat dinner with your family several times each week. Read books and participate in face-to-face conversations.
Check out an infographic about children and technology.