Does Technology Hamper Parenting?
It was Albert Einstein who said, "I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots." On another occasion, he said, "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." It is in this context parents must remember that they themselves spend a lot of time on technology. The term "unplugged parenting” has perhaps been coined only due to this. But parents hasten to add that they get a lot of stuff about how they should help their children balance their “online” connections with their “real life” connections.
Parents also add that they want to educate their kids about the potential dangers their online addiction may cause. One of the dangers online addiction may cause is that children may not be able to maintain positive relationships with other members of the family, their teachers, peers and other friends. But before parents venture into the task of educating their kids, they should understand how they themselves use technology in their lives.
Remember that you, as a parent, are your kid's first teacher and first role model. So, if you use technology excessively but advise your kid to limit their usage, you cannot justify your expectation. In fact, the negative impact of excessive use of technology applies to you as well. There is no doubt you are interested in the welfare of your kid but you must be interested in your well-being also.
It is true that you struggle due to paucity of time. You may have to go to office, attend to household chores, take care of your kid and the list is endless. In this context, technology does help you because you can carry out your banking transactions, order your grocery items and pay your bills with the help of mobile apps. Now the question is how much use of technology is too much?
The boundary that separates family life and work has now become blurred. You can now work from home thanks to gadgets such as tablets and smartphones. Similarly, children also have their extracurricular activities in addition to attending schools. So, parents must not only find a balance between technology-based work demands and family life but should teach their children also about the healthy ways of using technology.
Jenny Radesky, M.D., a child behavioral experts, says, "It's much harder to toggle between mom or dad brain and other aspects of life because the boundaries have all blurred together. We wanted to understand how this was affecting parents emotionally. We found that parents are struggling to balance family time and the desire to be present at home with technology-based expectations like responding to work and other demands."
If parents engross themselves in gadgets, they cannot be mentally "present" to their surroundings though they may be physically present. Apart from setting a bad example to their kids, they will not have any time for family interactions as well. Since they will feel exhausted soon, they may not be able to attend to the needs of their children. In this context, you can use the following tips for using technology judiciously. Otherwise, the observations made by R. Buckminster Fuller that "Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons" may become true.
1. Set clear boundaries
You may have an expensive smartphone or a tablet but this does not mean that you should keep using them endlessly without allowing time for family interactions. So, set a start time and an end time for using the gadgets and ensure to stick to those timings.
2. Keep a close watch on how you use the gadgets
It is true that your time may fly by when you start using these gadgets. But it is highly imperative that you must be conscious of the time you spend on them. Though you can acquire a lot of knowledge by using these gadgets, knowledge alone is not enough for making you happy. As a parent, you are accountable for other things also.
3. Know your distractions
Most of the times, when you are using your smartphone or laptop, you may get distracted. So, it is important you must know the patterns of your distractions. For example, when you check your emails, you may come across a new information and hence, may tend to find more details about it. This may go on for hours. On the other hand, if you make it a habit to check your mails only at specific hours, you will find that a lot of time is available to you. The same rule applies to your use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
4. Become the person your child may look up to
Never forget the fact that you are the first role model for your child. In fact, your child may replicate your behaviors. So, if you guard against using technology excessively, your child will also learn to limit their use.