Parenting in the age of Technoference: Overgrowing technology use has been proving inevitable in the 21st century, and children are just following the pattern. It further got worse with the pandemic hit when people resorted to technology for companionship and nurturing social interaction; again, a site that is inevitable.
The situation is like that of a pendulum hanging between extremes when children had no option but to engage into online schooling or classes during this pandemic situation, thus increasing digital engagement and an attempt to balance digital behaviour.
In order to draw a balance between reasonable use of technology and technology overuse, parents of the today’s time, need to go extra miles to adequately regulate the technology use behaviour of their children.
The irony is children have exceeded the threshold of technology use, in a phase, when they are very ignorant of the negative impact technology use can lead to.
Digital behaviour has brought about a change in the way parent child interact, communicate, express themselves, bond and grow attachment.
How to raise a child in the digital age?
In order to resist the inevitable impact of technology on children, a number of leading corporate giants in the field of technology were bound to talk about Digital Parenting.
Digital Parenting is nothing but the practice of raising children in an environment dominated by the use of the digital device. Digital parenting emphasizes the parental techniques and efforts of having support, control as well as regulating the children’s interaction with the digital device.
Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), a non-profit international organization, which focuses on making the online world safer for children and families, actively promotes and creates awareness that online safety is a concern for everyone- from children to grandparents. They actively provide tools for good digital parenting.
Some research focused on the impact of parents’ digital behavior on children’s digital activity, which was explored in the previous article Technoference in parenting and child development. Parents first need to check on their own digital behavior; the change needs to come from themselves.
Mostly parents have been seen to use digital devices to pacify children. Children’s demands are easily fulfilled by just making them busy with the mobile phone, or making them feed by watching the phone; these are certain gross malpractices which requires to be immediately stopped.
It is understandable that children at times get very difficult, and as parents, we find new and easy ways to get the situation under control
Parenting styles effective in Digital Parenting
Researchers like Loredana Benedetto and Massimo Ingrassia in their research work talked about parental warmth as a constructive and more adaptive parenting style on raising children in interactive with technology, with much regulation and support.
Parental warmth includes parenting traits like constantly communicating the child about the harmful impact of technology, about digital abuse, about gaming addiction as on, as well as supporting the child to interact with technology responsibly, in terms of showing children friendly content- songs, audio/ digital books, infotainment and so on.
Many research tried to explore adequate parenting style which would be proved more effective in dealing children of the digital age.
Among the conventional parenting styles, the authoritative parenting style often characterized and identified as high responsiveness and reasonable demands. It is about exercising fair and consistent discipline yet having flexibility, support and self- reliance. Research showed this kind of parenting is more conducive as a Digital Parenting technique, which defines proper rules about internet surfing behaviour, defining what is not appropriate for the children to access on the internet and optimum supervision.
Digital Parenting Techniques
- Sensible Screen Time- Always important regulate how much time they are spending on screen, much important than what they are watching. Give children a time bandwidth within which they can access digital device. The schedule can be at time flexible but the duration or the frequency should remain constant.
- Strict boundaries – A lot of parents duly exercise a rule of what age is appropriate to social media, and this practice has been found to be efficient in educating children and adolescents about the various positive and negative impact of technology. This helps in developing informed decision as well as responsible social media behaviour later.
- Don’t pull the plug – It is however inappropriate for parents to come and suddenly switch off the TV and snatch away the device from the children. Such techniques develop rebelliousness. Rather, parents can give prior warning of the set time limit and using adequate behaviour technique to make the child switch off the device, all him/herself. This will encourage self- reliance.
- Keep talking – Parents are encouraged to openly discuss with the children and adolescents about the risk involved in excessive technology use, social media sharing and other digital behaviour. Parents discussing about the risk factors would be a good source of education for the children and adolescents, as well as it will lead to more social communication and expression between the child and parents
- Engage in their worlds – Parents need to understand and cater adequately to the entertainment needs as well as interest of their children; what amuses them, what they like and dislike, what kind of activities the child like engage into and so on. This will automatically lead to more socially and intellectually engaging activities.
- Bed time rituals – Parents should strictly develop healthy bed time rituals from the early phase of child development; be in saying Thank you, expressing gratitude, looking back to what good thing happened on the day, story- telling, reading habits and so on.