Parenting in the Tech Age
Raising kids in a technologically advanced world is no mean feat. This is an era of speed-speed of information and action. And sometimes, this speed can result in an information overload and craving for instant gratification and which we, as parents, find hard to tackle.
We are so consumed by technology that it seems to have permeated into every part of our existence. We wake up in the morning and the first thing that we do is check our phones. What happened to good old ‘Good Mornings’ and enjoying the cool morning breeze? As it’s well known, our kids learn more from watching us rather than listening to our teachings.
Convenience Becomes a Pattern
With just one or two kids per household, we try to keep them happy, always. The time we can spare for our kids is getting restricted and the hours we do get to spend, we don’t want to annoy them. And sometimes, it is just convenience. If our toddler is a fussy eater, we play a few catchy nursery rhymes for them on our phones as a source of distraction. If we are tired after a long day and our kid has a lot of questions, what do we do? Just to buy some time, we let them play on their gadgets. And this becomes a pattern with tantrums and serious meltdowns if the kids are restricted on their screen-time.
The Downside of Too Much Screen-Time
A personal and social interaction can never be substituted by an electronic gadget. We walk into a restaurant and we see families not talking to each other but glued to their gadgets. If a child complains of boredom or if the parents are busy, the most convenient way seems to be a smartphone or a tablet.
Numerous studies have validated the ill effects of too much screen-time and that it severely and negatively impacts the cognitive development of a child, especially during the crucial early years. When deprived of their favourite cartoons, games etc, kids become apathetic and uninterested. And we, the parents, are responsible for a large part of this situation.
Not All Is Lost
It would be wrong to put all the blame on technology. True to the adage that science is a good slave but a bad master, we must not let technology rule our lives. It can prove to be a great tool to gain knowledge. So are there ways to actually gain mileage from the vast source of information at our disposal? Here’s what we can do.
- Come up with a plan: Cutting off screen-time altogether might not be a great idea. Instead, chalk out a plan where you decide what is an appropriate time allocation for kids to spend on their screens. Moderation is the key and the parents have a big role in maintaining balance and regulating the content for their kids.
- Build a ritual: It may take some time to build but a family ritual gives a sense of belonging to the kids. A rule such as no phones on the dinner table can bring you to date with the happenings in your children’s lives. They will definitely feel more comfortable sharing their problems in a personal interaction rather than their parents glued to their phones.
- Make technology a partner and not a master in your life: Search for the countless DIY projects that you can create with your child. By keeping it innovative and fun, your child will love to be engaged for a long time.
- Keeping checks and balances: Keep an eye on the content your child watches online. This way, he/she won’t be exposed to age-inappropriate programmes. The content he/she does watch, ask yourself, “Is this solving any problem?” or “Is my child learning something new?” This way, you are not allowing technology to create a negative impact on young minds.
- Make reading a habit: Part of the reason why children are so addicted to gadgets is that they get transported to another world. Reading a book will not only help tremendously in their language abilities and creativity, it will also help broaden their horizons. A simple storybook or a newspaper will help in their holistic development which, in turn, will create a solid foundation for adulthood.This Independence Day, let’s try to create a life and space, free from the negative and far-reaching effects of technology. Let’s not shun it altogether but partner with it to raise well-rounded children which will make them well-informed and sensitive individuals later in life.