Digital parenting is the need of the hour

Young parents, with children, on laptop computer

Educational institutes today lay stress on going digital for the students, hence it is imperative that parents too learn the art of digital parenting to become more responsible for their children in the online world.

The other day I was hanging out with a bunch of girl pals and their young ones. There, a conversation between a seven-year-old and a eight-year-old had me feeling irrelevant. The little girls were talking about these apps that let them download songs on their smartphone. Yes, I know such apps exist, but they had a whole list of these on their fingertips. The conversation then veered towards downloading these via Youtube and which latest song had the discos grooving to. They even spoke about how one can talk on the internet sans the smartphone!  These were little girls who are supposed to be talking pink and reading Nancy Drews, isn’t it! Even their mothers seemed to be talking the talk with ease. Mothers of all same school going children are active members of a whatsapp group that looks into the welfare of their children at the school.

This transformation begins the moment your children start going to school. Their school projects, classes all involve working with digital means. You can’t even curtail their screen time too much if they say they require it for their class work or projects. Even you as a parent tend to help them in their projects with a little bit of help from internet, on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Setting the right example? Debatable. However, what I am trying to say is that it is only a matter of time before this ‘required’ screen time turns into an ‘internet addiction’ for the children. As a precautionary measure, we parents really need to get our act together and assume a more active role as parents to a digitally empowered generation. We need to be there, online, to keep an eye on what our children do when they are online. We need to know if they need any intervention from us to save them from any trouble they may face in the online world. Hence, the term digital parenting.

Digital parenting does not involve being hostel wardens to our children or ruling them with an iron hand. It just needs to be a more friendly approach to see if they are safe online. We need to see if they are not falling prey to the dangers of online scams, cyber bullying, cyber stalking and pornography. Are they indulging in safe search? In fact, as a parent your antennas should go up when they start spending more time online than is required for them. It is extremely important for us parents to not just be digitally aware, but also be a step ahead of them in the online world. Since there is no getting away from it, you better learn to play the game. That is why, I am not going to wait for my 20-month-old to grow up, instead from this year onwards, I determine to learn the tech talk and overcome my lack of digital know-how.

For the rest, since parents cannot be online all the time to be there for their children, digital parenting applications are there to do that job for them. Parental control softwares are actually a boon for new-age working parents and the apple of their eyes.

And then, being digital also helps us parents make our lives so much more easier. We can buy grocery online, do veggie shopping sitting at home, give away clothes for dry cleaning by just calling up the dry cleaners or just punching in a few keys on the app, pay bills online, buy tickets, shop for clothes, accessories, home furnishing, and what have you! Sometimes I think if our financials were taken care of, we all can just stay at home all the time and get everything else done online without stepping out even once, just rely on the smartphone with an internet connection and you are covered. On second thoughts, that would be a blessing indeed, but we need some fresh air too and of course the money as well. Anyways, the point is that internet helps us parents by making our lives easier, then let us make use of the time saved to spend with our children. Their childhood will never come back again.

 

About the author

Anu Bhambhani

Having worked with some of the leading names in the publishing industry, Anu is now an independent editorial consultant. After working for over 11 years, she is now working from home to be able to look after her little girl. When she is not writing (her first love), she is happy cooking, reading and learning nursery rhymes, a new one everyday to keep her toddler entertained and of course taking family vacations

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