The Challenge of Parenting in the Digital Age
Each generation of parents has a new challenge to face. For our generation, it is the challenging of technology.
Today’s kids have technology at their fingertips from the moment they start walking and talking. Many toddlers can navigate the iPad before they can talk in full sentences.
Yet technology, in spite of all of the ways it helps, has the ability to greatly harm our kids. Cyber-bullying leading to suicide, childhood obesity problems and children with psychological damage from too much screen time are all risks associated with technology, making it one of the biggest challenges of the modern generation of parents.
Technology Has No Boundaries
When we were kids, technology was available, but it had limits. Television shows were on at set times, and with no Netflix or DVR, you watched when it was on then shut it off. Today, we have technology in the palm of our hands at all times. Children are rarely less than an arm’s length from a tablet or smartphone. This constant access has the potential to damage children.
A study led by the University of Bristol found that children who spent over two hours a day looking at a screen had a 60 percent higher risk of psychological problems than those who had more limits. Limiting screen time is vital to raising healthy, balanced kids. Make rules, then keep them consistent so your kids learn to manage their screen time.
Lack of Good Media Use Modeling
Many kids are addicted to media because the adults around them model this behavior. It’s easy to harp on our kids for being glued to the gaming system or TV, but do they have a good model? Are you always on the laptop or is your phone like an added appendage. These tools can make your job as a mom much easier, but they can also hurt your relationship with your kids.
You must model the boundaries you set for your kids in your own life. If the rule is no phones at the dinner table, then that applies to everyone. If you require children to complete homework before watching TV or checking Instagram, then you need to keep media out of the picture until you are done with your chores as well.
Remember, no email, text or call is more important than your kids, so make sure that you put the phone down, close the laptop and connect with the ones you love most. Technology can wait until the kids are in bed.
Constant Access to Peers
When we were young, if someone was mean at school, we could come home to the comfort of our home, wallow in our tears and get the strength to face the problem the next day. However, our kids have access to their peers at all times, meaning that bully that picks on your daughter at school can text her mercilessly all night long. Taking away the phone doesn’t help, either. If your daughter isn’t available, she’ll just text her best friend, send an embarrassing picture to the boy she likes or post something about her on Facebook or Instagram. The amount of social pressure this creates is insane.
So what can you do, as a parent? Learn the signs of bullying. Set limits on who has your child’s phone number and who can access her social media pages. Most of all, provide a stable, loving environment at home full of open communication, so no matter how tough it gets with her peers, she knows you are behind her completely.
Technology is here to stay, so we as modern parents must learn to parent with it. It takes work to set boundaries and stay connected with our kids, but it is work worth doing.