Kathleen Cooke and the iGeneration
Hollywood media analyst, Kathleen Cooke, is a great friend of Treasuring Mothers. She helps us navigate ways forward, for both us and our children, in this internet savvy world.

Kathleen Cooke lives in Hollywood and is a media executive, producer and actress, writer and global speaker. She’s a founding partner at Cooke Pictures where she oversees casting, and is a Creative Director for all major projects. Kathleen wants to help mothers future-proof iGen children.

I spoke to Kathleen about the iGen on the Treasuring Mothers podcast >>>

Kathleen is also a media analyst, and has some great perspectives on the modern-day culture surrounding us, and especially, to help mothers future-proof iGen children. As a worker in media and entertainment, one of her jobs is to stay informed about all the platforms and technology, and how the internet is being used and consumed. It’s a big task to stay ahead of it all, and that’s what’s scary, especially for mothers today. How do we keep ahead of technologies that are changing all the time?

At least Kathleen can help us out.

Help! I’m a mother who has NO IDEA!

To be honest, I know we mothers need help. We all need to work out how to care for our kids. These are the Internet Generation (iGen), those born since 1994. Sometimes they are also called Generation Z (Gen Z). These are the ones who grew up using the internet and smartphones.

Which means we parents are off guard! Because mostly, our own ‘training’ to be a parent was what we saw our parents do.  But all this technology wasn’t even thought of then. As well, we have very little idea about the pressures our kids are under. So it’s pretty important to learn about it, so we can help our children navigate their iGen lives, with the benefit of a little of our adult wisdom. If we work out what to do, we help mothers future-proof iGen children.

Darkness and Light

When I spoke to Kathleen, I began by asking what it was like to live in Hollywood. I was just a bit curious. However, the joke was on me, because in fact she grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. Reminiscing, she said, “Las Vegas was kind of a crazy place growing up. I saw a lot of life behind the bright lights. But God had me in his hands and I was raised by a very strong Christian family.”

Kathleen continued, “Las Vegas . . . is called Sin City. Growing up in that was a lesson to be learned . . . which prepared me to live in Hollywood. That’s because Hollywood is also a hotbed for individuals who come for fame fortune, and who want to become that quick celeb.”

So even though so many people aspire to live in Hollywood, it sounds as though the fairy-tale is often more like a nightmare! Kathleen agrees. “There’s a lot of heartache, and pain, and suffering that happens in this town, behind those bright lights. But God kind of prepared me for that. And I feel really privileged.”

I wondered, what happened to Tinsel Town?

Yep. There’s a dark side to every bright picture. “Unfortunately, we live in this broken world, and it’s not the [type of] world God created for us. So there’s a lot of heartache that happens in this city. We’re in the media and entertainment business, and we see a lot of pain and suffering and heartache from people that come into this town looking for instant fame and fortune.”

She continued, “But sometimes God has other plans for them in their life, and they have to go through pain and suffering to find that.”

I suppose overnight success is a very rare story, and Kathleen said that’s true. “They say it’s an average of 10 years before you even break into, or begin to break into, Hollywood.”

My goodness that’s a very long time before you can even start! The world is changing rapidly, but clearly you still have to do the hard work to break into the entertainment industry.

Revolution and Evolution

THEN

‘Rapid-change’ is a buzz-word isn’t it? We’re in the middle of what will probably become the “internet revolution”. And just like the industrial revolution, it’s changing every facet of life. The way we do business, the way we travel, the way we cook food, the way we eat, and the way we relate to people socially. We didn’t know about Skype 20 years ago. And Facebook was barely a blip in Mark Zuckerberg’s mind back then. So much has changed in the last two decades.

This world is so very different from the world we grew up in. I asked Kathleen about the digital era, because she has done so much research in that area. Particularly its effect on young children.

“It’s an interesting era we live in these days,” she said. “And it’s going to get even more interesting in the future. When I grew up there were only three television channels. You just went to a movie once in a while, and those were just growing in popularity. I remember when my first daughter was born in 1984, the computer had just been launched, and my husband brought home his first computer.

NOW

“With each 10 years, the technology has ‘disrupted our culture’. It isn’t just a trend. It isn’t just something that has changed us. But it’s actually disrupted our lives. Statistics tell us that today, we are bombarded and overwhelmed every day with a minimum of about 5000 media messages.1 We live in a world cluttered with media and entertainment. And so raising children in that environment is really quite different from how I had to raise my daughter.”

And that’s the experience gap we face. We have no idea what it’s like to grow up with our minds impressed minute by minute, day by day, with millions of messages beamed directly into our streets, screens and bedrooms. The internet transmits good, and bad, from one end of the world to the other. This is 21st Century life in a global village.

Why Help Mothers Future-Proof iGen Children

Kathleen also researched how this digital era affects young children. So, what does she think is happening?

“I’m seeing how it’s affecting my grandkids nowadays. Statistics tell us2 that by the time a child is 18 years of age they will have watched 200,000 acts of dramatized violence and 40,000 murders on their screens, TV, or their iPad. And the average teenager checks his cell phone now 85 times a day!3

“We are bombarded and overwhelmed with media. We can’t escape it. Futurists I’m studying and working with tell us that in another 10 years, we won’t have cell phones and computers anymore. 4 Everything will be in the cloud. And the only device we might carry is possibly a watch, or an embedded chip in our body.

“In fact the Fitbit watches and iWatches we’re wearing right now are the beginnings. We’ve been playing around with implanting chips into our cats and dogs to find them when they’re lost. And even factories have started implanting chips into their employees to get them into high security areas. Or to buy a bag of chips in the vending machine. Or make sure they get to work on time, and check when they leave.

“These kinds of things are here. They’re happening! And they predict that within 10 years, we will to see more and more of this.5

“Everything we consume media-wise will be in the cloud. In fact, this next generation, the three to 10-year-olds, will never be offline. We talk about the hours that kids are online these days, and when kids are offline. Well, with this next generation, there won’t be any offline and online. They will be on-line literally 24-hours a day.”

This is why it’s important to help mothers future-proof iGen children.

Life is Changing, and that’s an Understatement!

This is a huge and important aspect of future life to get our heads around. And the time to prepare our children is right now. This is the internet evolution, and it’s not going away! Whatever happens, there is no doubt that future generations will be different because of it.

Kathleen continued, “It’s going to change the way we live. And it’s going to change our kids. In fact, neurologists are studying kids’ brains right now, documenting that they are actually physically changing, from the brains of the previous generation.6 So this is the kind of stuff we’re going to be dealing with.

“I say to moms, it’s really not how much time our kids are on and off the Internet, or on and off screens. The real question is, ‘What are they watching?’ It’s about teaching them how to be healthy consumers of media. How to be careful.

“We teach our kids how to eat properly. We put sunscreen on, so we won’t get burned. And we talk about how we look both ways when we cross the street. Well, media usage is going to be the same. We have to train our kids how to use it safely and make healthy choices. Or they’re going to suffer with what I call ‘media obesity’ or be killed, just by accident, because of the stuff that they’re consuming, [by being] burned and scarred.

“So video watching has to be parent controlled, even into early adulthood. Parents have to control. They have to learn how to not be a policeman, but how to communicate to their kids that they care about what they’re watching. And to teach them why it’s important that they also care about what they’re watching.”

4 Tactics to Keep our Kids Safe

The internet is a bit like playing with fire. It’s such an incredible tool, and yet a terrible master! I asked Kathleen about some tactics, to make sure our children kids are safe, to help mothers future-proof iGen children.

Here’s what she said:

1. Teach kids that you care about them

An example of that would be to watch programs with them, and then ask questions about what kind of things they learned, or what kinds of things they are learning about it.

2. Set an example yourself

Make sure you are watching quality entertainment. It’s unfortunate but parents seem to say, “Do what I say, don’t do what I do.”  All the time adults are not acting the way they are telling their kids they need to act. So often we’re consuming junk media ourselves, whether it would be the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or Dancing with The Stars, or some of the other programs that are just time wasters. They don’t really change our lives, or teach us anything that’s important. So as adults we need to pay attention to what media and junk we’re consuming, and teach better habits to our kids.

3. Learn how to ask questions

Lead them into thinking about how they’re spending their time, and the way that they’re spending it. My four-year-old granddaughter is constantly on the Internet. We’re constantly having to monitor her, and she’s consuming as much as she can possibly get away with.

4. You have to be the parent

You have to put your foot down. Sometimes you have to say, ‘We’re turning off the TV’, or ‘We’re putting down that iPad, and we’re going to play in the park, or ride a bike. We’re going to go talk together, and think together.’

More to Come

It’s fascinating to think how much the internet has changed our lives already. And there is more to come! Hopefully this blog post will help mothers future-proof iGen children by preparing them for the future. This is the task mothers have. Right here. Right now.

Kathleen and her husband Phil raised two daughters in Hollywood. The eldest lives 15 minutes away in Los Angeles . . . she and her husband both are actors, and they have a 4-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. The other daughter is single, and lives in New York as a musician.

You can find out more about Kathleen Cooke HERE >>>

References

1 “We’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today.” Jay Walker-Smith, Yankelovich Consumer Research

2 Grossman and Degaetano, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill, p1

3 Andrews, Ellis, Shaw, Piwek, Beyond Self-Report: Tools to Compare Estimated and Real-World Smartphone Use

4 John Brandon, Why Smartphones will become extinct by 2025

5 Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, The Distraction Addiction

6 Susan Greenfield, Screen Technologies

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