Personal Responsibility


Because of the way that we can keep track of our children, they are losing essential opportunities to grow into responsible and trustworthy grown-ups. When did we trade a childhood-long apprenticeship, seasoned with our guidance, for turning them into objects of surveillance? When did we forget that for healthy responsibility to develop, our children must be given time and space to figure things out on their own? What kind of citizens are we molding when their every move is being monitored and tracked by the technologies we possess? Which by the way, can be gotten around.

It puts me in mind of the college student who leaves her cell phone in her room at night while she goes to sleep over at her boyfriend’s apartment. Why does she do this? Because her mother is tracking her. So, while this mother sleeps soundly at night “knowing” that her daughter is in her dorm room, reality tells a different story. Not only has deception been installed in the relationship, this mother has eroded her daughter’s opportunity to learn how to live with a code of conduct based on a developing judgment and growing integrity that can only come through careful tutelage under an adult, coupled with increasing opportunities for un-monitored experience.

When we place our children under surveillance, they may learn how to go undetected, but never will they learn how to take what we have given them, add in their own life experiences, and move towards taking greater and greater levels of personal responsibility. Their lives, and our world, needs people who have developed an inner code of conduct that they can navigate by; whether someone is watching or not.

Additionally, we are training our children to be comfortable with being monitored, watched, and followed. How will this serve our children and the collective good? Big Brother really misses the mark here. For their future and for the future of a democratic nation, we must be intent upon raising a citizenry, who through years and years of training, guidance, and support, learns how to take personal responsibility for their choices. Not because they are being watched but because they have come to the conclusion that this is the kind of person they most want to be. Because they have internalized the best of what we have to pass on to them. Because they have learned to think about more than themselves. And because they have matured into understanding the cause and effect relationship of their actions in the world.

How will our children learn self-regulation, independent thinking, and trustworthy behavior, all aspects of personal responsibility, if they rely on being watched in order to do the right thing?