Niall Mulrine

Technology: Kids learn habits from parents


AS A parent there is never a dull moment when dealing with children’s outbursts and tantrums no matter what age they are? Sometimes if the parent is in the company of their peers, they will comically respond to a tantrum or outburst by saying “that child is the spit of their father, bad temper” or “that girl just lies on the sofa watching TV all day like her mum”. It is easy to point the finger at someone else when things go wrong, but often the saying goes “when you are pointing one finger out, three fingers are pointing back”. Children do learn habits from their parents by watching, listening and admiring them.

Children’s online use is often similar to their parent’s
Before delving into the online media world of parental lessons, I want to draw you to a survey that was conducted in America three years ago. The biggest majority of young drivers start many bad habits by simply watching their parents through the years behind the wheel. This more true today, as parents and children alike have mobile phones strapped to them on a 24-7 basis. 61% of teens quizzed about their parents use of technology in the car admitted that their parents use of their mobile phones were a distraction whilst teaching their children to drive. In this case the parent unknowingly; out of habit uses their phone whilst driving without considering what their children are seeing. So, how does this tie in with kids spending too much time online at home?
Children spend as much time as parents online

Often we see children, teenagers and young adults sitting in cafes, restaurants, doctor’s waiting rooms and cinemas sitting on their mobile phones, whilst being disengaged with the people sitting beside them and we say, “Them young ones have lost the art of talking in the real world”. Adults are in the same conundrum when sitting about in public places. There is times, I feel guilty myself if I am in a waiting room or somewhere similar and I pull out my phone to do some online work. I know what I am doing is not correct and to repair this negative thought, I put the phone away and try make conversation with someone near me. In a recent article in the Belfast Telegraph, 62% of Irish people’s conversations are about the weather. We are good talking about weather as it’s an ice-breaker. So try staying with the generalisation of the Irish person and try to strike up a conversation with someone different when sitting in certain areas. When surfing Facebook through any given day, I see parents status updates posted throughout a given day and often wonder how they get the time to be sitting on Facebook. Lots of posts are those of articles they read on other websites that they share on Facebook because they thought their audience would feel the same feeling towards that they do. Different kind of Facebook-posters can be found.


• The happy chappy: This is someone who remains in a positive state most times of the day and would keep in toe with positive material whilst surfing online. These people can either be sincere or insincere. Some are trying to play characters they are not by sharing this to make them try to feel happy, whilst others are genuinely happy. To distinguish between both, have a good read of their wall over the past few days. This will give an indication of how “really” happy they are.

• The Joe Duffy fans: These people are religious updating their status updates on how they feel when tragedy happens and how it effects them. No matter if the tragedy has any bearing or relevance to this person, they will capture the negative emotion and drop it on their wall, to get others to put their down-hearted feelings on the wall. A Bit like a “The Smiths” music only disco, we can all be unhappy and sad and wear black as that is how we feel in the inside. If there is an incident, let’s make a drama out of it.

• The nosey parkers: These are the silent and shy type that do not want any pictures of themselves on Facebook but just want to be on enough to keep an eye on what’s happening with their friends and families lives, so they can sit back and gloat or congratulate. They rarely update their status, but may share the odd post. When you meet these people in public, they would say, “I rarely be on that Facebook thing, it’s all nonsense I think.”

• The upstanding citizens: These are the people out to make changes for us to have a better life. When a campaign against something comes out, these are the backbone of our community and will often speak out on our behalf. Let’s have a Facebook page setup to demonstrate how we all feel against this issue etc. In fairness, there have been loads of marches nationwide that started over Facebook and global charities have benefited.

• Connectors: The people who have a genuine interest in others and would like to keep in touch online on what their friends and families are doing in life. They will comment and share photos, videos and updates with their loved ones. A great rise in this area over the last few years, helped Facebook grow in the 50 year old plus age group. This marked the emigration of young people to find jobs and aunts and uncles wanting to keep in touch with them.

• Socialites: The glamorous collection of our friends, who are posting selfies of themselves in different parts of their homes, parks, bars, restaurants and other places. So much so, that the selfies are of different plates of food they might have had that day. Where am I now type of scenarios posted online??

Social media needs all these people and honestly, there is probably a bit of us all in each of the above, I know I can full into an odd category from time to time. But, what this is showing our kids is, that it is great to share every moment of our lives online, tell everyone where we are all the time, have feelings that we used to keep private be posted on social media and embarrass others for our own fun online. Pretty much do all the things we don’t want our children to do online! So, is it a case of do what we say, not what we do parenting? That is the question


How to contact Niall Mulrine
If you would like a workshop for a parents association, workplace conference, sports centre talk and many other venues, please contact me on 086-2377033. For more information & tips on Cyber Bullying & Internet Safety log on to

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