Parenting with technology
September 17, 2020
There is no denying that technology is becoming a huge part of our lives. Parenting with technology is an even more complex process. With so much being accessible within our fingertips, it has not only changed the dynamics of how we work, but its effects on parenting is undeniable. A more common scenario would be dining out with your family and while waiting for your food to arrive, your toddler starts fidgeting about how she’s tired and is about to have a meltdown, you quickly shove her your tablet with the latest cartoon and she settles down, enthralled by the colorful images and you sigh with relief.
This article is not one that is going to judge how you parent. Some screen time for your children can actually allow you to calm down and delay how you choose to respond to the situation. Parenting with the help of technology doesn’t seem too far-fetched as our lives typically revolves around it.
Make screen time a family event
As parents, we all know that a total rejection to something makes the action more desirable. Balancing out our responses as the one in charge is likely to communicate the message to your children that you care and are not against them. Consider making screen time a family affair, using technology to communicate with your kids and build bonds with them about what they are interested in. For instance, if your kids like watching a particular movie or YouTuber, then consider watching it with them. Having a conversation later on about what you have just watched or bringing up a new trend or app helps you connect with your kids and foster trust. Your kids will sense that you are trying to connect with them, and this is an opportunity for you to also take interest in their lives and foster a sense of connection and trust. Not only are you doing something with your kids, but you also are teaching them how to use technology in a way that requires them to think about what they are watching rather than just simply consuming it.
Utilize technology for good
With the world of technology evolving from day to day, there is just so much to discover and at times truly a challenge to stay updated with the latest trends. With a ton of new trends and apps coming up each day, it is a great opportunity as parents to get in touch with the latest trends and foster connection with your children. Allow your children to speak freely about their latest Tik-Tok video, and better still, be a part of it. Bust out some dance moves together, laugh together. A family that does things together is a family that stays together. With our lives completely turned around by the pandemic, a great bonding activity could be opening up your own Youtube channel. It not only allows your child to learn about your values and beliefs, it creates meaningful conversations with your child. Furthermore, being able to have the opportunity to peek into their world is priceless. Not only you’ll have a lot more time to spend with them, you get to learn so much more about them. Play a video game with your kids. It’s a good way to demonstrate good sportsmanship and gaming etiquette.
Be a role model
Consider teaching and modeling kindness and good manners online. Children typically take on your behaviour by observation, so by limiting your own media use when you’re around them do go a long way. In fact, you’ll be more available for and connected with your children if you’re interacting, hugging and playing with them rather than just simply staring at a screen. Media can be very effective in keeping kids quiet, but it should not be the only way they learn to calm down. Children need to be taught how to identify and handle strong emotions, come up with activities to manage boredom, or calm down through breathing, talking about ways to solve the problem, and finding other strategies for channeling emotions. As an adult, it would be helpful for your child to see how you’re modelling these behaviours and how you typically spend your time. Rather than immediately whipping up your phone, have a conversation instead. Allow your children to weigh in on different activities they can do to withstand boredom. It’s perfectly fine if they’re bored once in a while. For them to learn to tolerate boredom well would encourage them to be less dependent on technology.
Put your technology down
Yes, it is as simple as that. If your kids observe you limiting your technology usage or walking away for your screen to do something else, they will most likely emulate these actions in their own lives. Kids learn by example more than anything else and, if you actively set limits on your own technology use, including not using mobile phones during meal times, then they are more likely to do the same. Moreover, pay attention to how often your family is using technology and if you do not like what you see, then make gradual changes, starting with your own behavior. You cannot expect your kids to limit their technology if you are not doing the same thing.
In summary, technology has definitely transformed the way parents interact with their children. From having kids and teens tethered to their devices and being able to be in constant contact with parents, to splitting attention between their kids and their mobile devices, parenting certainly does not look the same as it did a decade or two ago. In other words, you get to decide what you want your family to look like. Parenting definitely comes with its set of challenges and there is no perfect answer as to how you parent and what’s considered the best course of action. Consequently, you have to decide what is right for you and your family.