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An entire world connected by gizmos -- yet more distant

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Walk through any mall in America and it will only take you 20 seconds to be run over by people looking down at a glowing device that holds all of their precious data.

And it won't be just the teenagers, it will also be adults. And they will scoff at you for not watching where you are going.

Our kids can't have a fever and we can't get to the gym without documenting it on Facebook or Twitter. We can't paint a bathroom or make a handmade something-or-other without sharing it on Instagram.

I'm not even sure humans will be able to carry on a verbal conversation face to face in 20 years. We'll forget what eye contact is and, truthfully, evolution may cause our chins to start attaching to our chests as much as we look down at our addictive devices.

I go out to dinner and I look around and everyone is on their phone. No one converses. Mom is on Facebook, Dad is playing a fishing game, the daughter texts and the 10-year-old has an iPad.

I could get up on a soapbox about the old days when the phone rang during dinner and you were forbidden to even flinch to think about answering it. But I won't. Probably because I'm guilty of 80 percent of what I'm writing about.

The fact that more people don't die on the road astonishes me. Take a glimpse at the people in front of you, next to you and in your rearview mirror. Everyone is looking at the steering wheel.

It has left the entire world connected, yet more distant.

And what's it doing to our kids? I'm not sure. I know it's not good. The ridicule and the constant connection with friends -- not to mention those they don't get along with -- leaves me worried that it's too much emotionally.

The boys seem to fare better, but they've been taught that emotions are for girls. The dynamic between girls who like each other is scary, much less between "frenemies."

But did our generation make it out unscathed? Isn't Facebook just a modern-day "Slambook"?

A Slambook was a notebook with questions to answer about yourself and others. You wrote exactly what you thought. The highlight came when you got the book back and read your page to see what everyone said.

Sometimes it bruised the ego.

Things were written on the bathroom wall, notes were passed and things were said. It wasn't easier for us.

We observe Facebook and think, "Man, am I glad I didn't have to go through that as a teen." But, in some ways, our lives were just as grueling.

Has anything good come out of our "connectedness"? It brings family closer, maintains friendships. We learn from one another, and those inappropriate e-cards give you a good chuckle.

Personally, I like following my teens on their accounts. They are both in high school, and I'm aware about life at that age.

I tell them they can't allow family or friends of the family, only their friends. They can post what they want, although I have demanded a takedown of some less-than-appropriate material.

I like that they can be who they are without fear of judgment. I've taught them how to act in a multitude of situations. Just because they are comfortable telling me a joke doesn't mean they would walk up to the principal and repeat it. Some parents never get to know who their kids are. You can learn a great deal by reading what they're posting.

Granted, some of it may be better left unknown. But, it's a great way to gain insight into what is really going on with your kid.

Social media has changed things. And it's certainly not going away. And we've never really succeeded in learning moderation or exhibiting discipline. So, I'm sure it won't get better. But times change. The only thing that stays the same is everything changes.

Get too attached to what used to be, and you'll get left behind.

(Heather Tempesta is a Brandon, Fla., mother of two boys, 16 and 9, and a girl, 14.)

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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