Parenting in the digital era: Now and then

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Distracted parents

Parenting has significantly evolved over the past 25 years, from societal advices of aunts and grandmothers to subscription of Parenting magazine on personal devices and a sense of segregation and information overload has stemmed its way into the classic template of parenting. The responsibility of raising happy, well-adjusted children often overwhelm parents into a frazzled state of dejection, established by overzealous efforts to find a connection with their progeny. They’re bombarded with expert advice and societal expectations from all corners, yet often end up on missing out the extended support system that parents half a century ago used to receive from neighbours and family.

Back then, parents sought out their friends with children of similar age and schedule a time when they could get together and mingle with each other. Consequently, children were exposed to different sets of values and parents got to share their experiences of child-rearing with other parents. With the advent of time, play dates with friends are progressively being replaced by television and gadgets, with both parent and child using technology as a prop to get by daily tasks.

Perhaps the most evident of all changes between today and past are the technological advances made and their influence on the developing principles of parenthood. What a quarter of a century ago had to be done by mail or telephone can now be done with the blink of an eye, through incorporation of modern amenities.

The reliance on technology by children is directly proportional to its utilization by parents. This, in turn, is significantly influenced by the age, educational level and economic-status. Parents who are tech-savy naturally focus on guidance, control and support. With the rise of working parents, technology is a rational way in keeping tabs on the child’s daily activities. Yet, with all these “connectedness”, desensitization is one of the most obvious shifts from earlier practices. In past, parents were more concerned with rearing non-self-centred, obedient children – whereas today, there’s a stronger emphasis on promotion of reliance on self, creation of self-worth and individuality. Yes, this has a fair share of negative impact. For one thing, children seem to absorb technology on a rapid scale, in comparison to their parents. To an impressionable mind, this proves to arrive, loaded with prolonged consequences, of both positive and negative nature. Information, coming from various stream, may contain content of a dubious nature, yet to a child, Google may seem to be a source of unyielding/credible knowledge. In addition, as they grow older, children demand for a greater leverage in freedom. This helps them work on self-actualization, engage in autonomous activities, and get ready for the outside world. It’s a tight-rope that parents have to walk on— a sensitive balance between development of oneness while keeping a watchful eye on what’s going on.

Parenting

A sound amount of supervision, with open-minded approach towards technology can help both the child and parent transit through this phase, smoothly. Here are a few pointers to reckon with-

  1. Comprehensive upbringing: Children of 21st century are usually found accessing assistive technologies, on a daily basis in their homes, schools, and other communities. In place of implementing preventive measures, encouraging the child to participate in technical discussions is a novel way to promote a healthy stance towards technology. Not only does it hone the child’s curiosity, it also inculcates a sense of conscientiousness, with the child considering himself to garner an equal space as an adult.
  1. Introduction to outside world: Emboldening children to participate in technology conference impervious to adult supervision, is a brilliant option. Here, he/she can pay attention to the views on upcoming areas and get an impetus to speak on some of the key topics. This is a constructive way of disseminating information while engaging in social interactions.
  1. Contribution in school: Education has rapidly taken assistance from technology to develop upon their tools. The proactive inclusion of technology in the educational field has made the process of imbibing lessons and transference of knowledge, a more interactive and congenial experience. Therefore, children should be urged to inculcate technology as a part of education and use it to benefit their expansion in knowledge.
  1. Utilization of skills: Technology is an enabler in more ways than one. Created for the practicalities of humans, it assists in every sphere of life. Several common manual tasks are automated to be enhanced in a significant level, thanks to technology. Today, parent’s grasp in technology is crucial for the child’s receptivity towards the judicious application of it. The habit of including technical terms in day-to-day conversations help children pick up the fundamental nature of technology and integrate it in their own learning curve.
  1. Striking the essential balance: Technology is certainly an asset but can have its negative implications, owing to prolonged dependence upon them. It is necessary to have intervals of   disconnection from gadgets at home and instead, invest time in sensitizing children with family values. Letting children know the art of self-restraint teaches them to have a healthy outlook towards life and denounce the overbearing urge to use technology as a crutch for human contact.

Creating a better world for all — where each child and adult can play, be educated, and nurtured in a safe, free environment — is one of the most demanding tasks in the world. With incorporation of the above practices, one can wean himself/herself and the child into a pro-technological environment, without losing touch with the older authoritarian principles.