Let’s embrace the digital world.
Why? Because it really is incredible and, by the way, we have no choice. Our children are knee deep in the screen world often before they can walk and properly talk and therefore our culture, society and families are evolving. Like right now, as I type this on a screen and as you are reading this most likely on an iPad, iPhone, or computer screen — we have evolved and are evolving. It’s okay. Really. It’s better than okay…it’s pretty great! Some of us older parents remember typing on typewriters all through high school and maybe even into college. Cool clicking sound, but the typewriter ribbons were pretty annoying and editing your writing was nearly impossible… see? It’s okay. We all have adapted to computers and even touch screens, and mostly for the better!
When there is evolution there are layers of compromise inherent to the process.
We give something up to get something (hopefully) better in return. Call it nature, but it is happening all around us, constantly. Some compromises are good and others are bad; it is a judgement call if what you are getting in return feels better than what you have given up. In this case, the explosion of the digital world and its impact on parenting is a good compromise…but there is a catch. We, the parents, must acknowledge and embrace how the digital world, with all of it’s amazing advancements, significantly impacts our parenting decisions.
Most of us remember the static found in-between two radio stations as you turned the dial right or left. We also remember the relief felt when you moved the dial just the perfect amount to tune in the desired station. What a great feeling. From fuzzy static to stereophonic music. Yeah. Well, sorry, that feeling is gone for future generations. Snowy television reception that if you moved the rabbit ears just right cleared up? Also gone. That relief is gone, but in its place is a world of social connections and crisp, digital sound with amazing content on demand.
“As the last generation of parents who grew up without the internet, it is on us to be active role models, teachers, and protectors even though much of the screen world is foreign, confusing, and sometimes scary.” Dr. Adam Pletter
So that’s an easy compromise. We can feel nostalgic and remember the frustration and then relief when tuning in the radio, but none of us would describe this as a ‘bad’ compromise. But, again, here is the rub: Parents should not be lulled into the passive approach that our kids will figure it out. As the last generation of parents who grew up without the internet, it is on us to be active role models, teachers, and protectors even though much of the screen world is foreign, confusing, and sometimes scary. Our children, despite what they might say, are looking to us to lead and be in-charge. Not in an overbearing, helicopter-ish way (helicopter parenting as it’s called), but as parents. (For more information about different parenting styles, check out this article). Structure, rules and consistent limits are the bedrock of our society and this should not be altered by the influx of screens in our families.
We must band together and seek out the good compromises for our children while safeguarding and teaching them how to be the savvy users they often pretend to be. Fake it before you make it and don’t fall back on the reactive, “I’ll deal it with if there is a problem” mode. We have helmets, car seats, and all sorts of padding to protect our children. The screen world is different, but parenting is parenting. Stay informed, stay involved, and adapt your iParenting in these evolving times.