Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology
Guest Post by: Alecia Carroll
The revolution in technology has changed how parents and children communicate, utilize time, daily routine, gain information, tackle problems, and find solutions in any condition. The outbreak of COVID-19 and continuation of it has brought drastic changes in parent-kid relationship and behavior. Almost every country has undergone lockdown and shut schools. So, working and schooling from home have become the only alternative. This leads to exposure of smartphones and different social media to the kids at an earlier age. Hence, early exposure and engagement come with new challenges to parent-child relationships and parental roles. Digitization has played a significant role in how parenting methods changed in the present and past.
The method of parenting and educating kids have changed over time. Nowadays, parents are more like friends to their kids. They do not force their kid to be a particular type of person, let them choose what they want to do and what they want to be. Also, today’s parents choose the psychological approach to know what kids are thinking, what’s happening in their lives and give advice as a friend. On the contrary, traditional parents are rigid in terms of education, social norms, and values. Overall, modern parents are more understanding and flexible.
Similarly, modern parents treat them differently; they deal with their children as per the circumstances, and they are more liberal. They also let their kids take their own time. Because of this, many social addictions have also increased day by day. Additionally, as per the research, about 30000 abortions occur daily, and drug addiction has risen due to peer pressure. This is the misuse of freedom they got from their parents. Whereas, in the past, parents used to monitor their kids very closely.
In essence, present and past parenting styles differ in giving liberty, understanding, and education patterns. There is the challenge of traditional and modern parenting styles, so you should not spoil your children by over-liberating them and not restrict their education. So, freedom, strictness, liberty should go hand in hand to raise your children.
With the advancement in technology and smartphones and the busy schedules of parents, parenting has become challenging. Here are the challenges faced by modern parents while nurturing their children.
1. Balancing Work and Relationships
Balancing work and family becomes a challenging task when you have a small kid in your family member. Since parents have busy schedules today, looking after kids’ lunch boxes, playroom, and school has become difficult. So parents cannot get enough time to spend and cater to the family members while building their careers.
2. Afraid to Say No
Every parent wants their kids to love them. They want to be their kid’s favorite person. But, they cannot fulfill every demand of them. Sometimes their demand might be beyond budget, or sometimes the thing they want is not the necessity. In this case, parents should not obey everything they demand. Sometimes saying no is the best answer.
3. Providing Quality Education
In today’s competitive world, providing quality education is the task of the parents. The fee structure and economic situation have created a lot of pressure on the parents. It is on them whether they can provide a quality life to their children in the modern era and whether they can afford their children’s dream school or college.
4. Excessive Information on the Internet
It isn’t easy to keep children away from different social media platforms and every piece of information floating on the internet. For parents, understanding every app is also tedious. Hence it has become challenging to keep the children from the harmful content and provide them quality information only. This being stated, parents should not hesitate to teach their children about history, origins, culture, and traditions in the computerized world.
Experts Advice on Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology
1. Make a Timetable to Use Social Media
If used properly, social media can change life for the better. The media should work in favor of you and your family members, and it should encourage family values and parenting styles. But, if used unseemly and extensively, it can hinder daily-life activities, health, family time, and even sleep. So, make a timetable to use the media. Also, choose the common platform to maintain screen time of every family member and schedule the timetable based on necessity.
2. Make Media a Part of a Child’s Life
Today’s kids are born with technology. So, it is impossible to cut them off from devices or media, and it is wrong to restrict media completely because kids of this age must know how to use media properly. Learning technology has become a factor of survival in today’s generation. That’s why teach them to use media properly for learning activities. Keep an update on what online platforms, software, and apps and update your kids about them too.
3. Make Screen Time More Engaging
Screen time shouldn’t be alone time always. Watching and playing with your kids helps to increase the parents-kid bond, interaction, and learning. Supporting your kids while they are playing helps to build sportsmanship and gaming culture.
Similarly, watching shows with them allows you to share your life experiences and feelings. Do not only interact with them; instead, participate to know about their whereabouts.
4. Be a Good Role Model
Teach your kids good manners and morals in life. In today’s world, it is necessary to teach them digital ethics and cybersecurity laws too. Children mimic their parents, limit smartphones, and do not engage in lousy internet activities. Instead, teach them the technology that you know and discourage the harmful use of technology.
Also, avoid using smartphones during family times, social gatherings, and face-to-face interaction. It helps to create more interaction between parents and kids.
5. Limit the Use of Media for Younger Children
Younger children get hooked to digital media quickly as media becomes their interactive entertainment source. Yes, they learn new things in due process, but it might hamper them a lot. Nowadays, even toddlers do not eat food without watching YouTube videos or TVs, which is terrible for cultivating habits.
Excessive engagement with the screens from an early age can hamper their eyes and brain. That’s why keep the young ones away from devices, and media, use them properly for the right amount of time.
6. Not Using Technology as the Leisure Time
Parents let children play with technology since it is an easy getaway whenever children are in their leisure time. But, it is also destructive. Instead of engaging your children in creative activities, arts and crafts activities, sports, or any other extracurricular activities, parents tend to let them play video games or watch the movie all day long.
Moreover, limit the time to use phones for your kids and don’t take phones to their bedroom. Instead, encourage them to read books in bed, which helps to make them more intelligent. This way, children will become active and learn new things during their leisure hours.
7. Find the Right Apps and Platforms for Kids
There are thousands of kid apps available in the market for entertainment and educational purposes. So choose the best app that suits your child’s nature. Apps labeled interactive are preferable. Many apps, including YouTube, have age and content restrictions for specific age groups to keep children away from adult content. You can also use the safe search engines made for kids.
8. Monitoring Their Online Activities
Often parents wonder whether their kid is studying on the computer or engaged in some other activities. How to know? Well, parents must monitor every activity of the kids that are happening online. Firstly, they must see if they are doing their homework, then what information they are consuming, whether they are involved in harmful content such as pornography, and finally, whether they are getting online threats or not. Since kids are not smart enough to tackle online problems and threats, parents must monitor and resolve all the issues. And the best way to do that is by using parental control apps. It is a fundamental approach for parenting kids in this digital world.
Parenting control apps have features to monitor and control calls, SMS, contacts, location, and social media platforms. You can choose what they can see and use.
9. Teaching Online Security to Teens
The internet is a crucial part of today’s generation, and we cannot interfere with that. For a teen, it can be a boon to explore more about themselves and the world. However, parents need to teach proper online security methods to keep them safe in the digital world.
Parents should teach about the cybersecurity measures like privacy settings, scams, use of VPNs, Antivirus and Malware protection, not sharing private information online, etc.
Social media, digital devices, and the internet have become an inseparable part of today’s life. That’s why technology plays a vital role in every aspect of parenting today, whether it be kids’ education or personal growth. So the best advice for parents in the digital world is to keep up with the technology and use it to provide a better lifestyle for their kids.
Alecia Carroll is a wife and mother of twins. She is a parenting expert, and her parenting journey led her to write content on parenting to help other parents with their children’s digital wellbeing.