Back when your parents were calling the shots, the biggest issue was probably whether or not to let you watch MTV. Fast forward 20 to 30 years and it seems as if MTV is the least of your worries. As a parent, your landscape is completely changed by the prevalence of technology available to your kids 24/7. By being aware of how the digital age keeps changing, you can gauge how it's affecting your parenting style, skills and effectiveness. Let's put it in terms your kids might understand: Tech affects u? OMG, don't b such a newb!
1. Quality Time
In the past, dinnertime was the almighty equalizer when it came to family time. Even with work, sports, activities and social lives, you could count on family time each day to reconnect and solidify your relationships. Unfortunately, being constantly plugged in and connected can rob you and your kids of some of that time together. Even if you do get a chance to eat together, checking emails, texts or eating at the computer means you don't actually get the time to talk, which means you could be missing out on entire portions of your children's lives.
Who would have thought you'd actually miss those days of yelling up the stairs at your kids? Of course, with texting and IMing, it's so much easier to just shoot your kids a message when it's time to leave for soccer practice. In some ways, this method of communication can have benefits like keeping your whole family connected when they're not together. Unfortunately, it can also mean less meaningful face-to-face communication.
3. Parental Concerns
Your parents didn't have to worry about anything as serious as online privacy, racy pictures or exposure to mature material on the Web. The more accessible technology becomes to kids and teens, the higher your concerns surrounding exposure and safety. You'll have to talk to your kids about things like sharing information online, cyberbullying, text etiquette and other issues that revolve around kids' usage of technology, computers, the Internet and cell phones.
4. Parental Attention
Think it's only your uber-connected teen who has a problem with technology? Think again. Parents are just as susceptible to technology addiction, and it often has more dire consequences. Sherry Turkle, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self, writes in her book "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other" that children have reported feeling isolated, jealous, hurt and competitive when parents were too plugged-in to their various devices. When was the last time you were surfing Facebook at a soccer game or checking email at dinner? You must monitor your own tech usage as much as your regulate your children's, or you could end up with unhappy, disconnected kids.
- "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other"; Sherry Turkle; 2011
- Ohio State University: Tuned In, or Tuned Out: How is Technology Affecting Your Family?
- Psychology Today: Is Technology Fracturing Your Family?
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