Previously, we talked about what makes a modern parent. In this article, let’s talk about being a parent in the digital age.
The perks of a digital age
In our first article of the series, we briefly talked about the perks of raising a child today.
In a few ways, parenthood is easier due to the access of online resources. Let’s say you’re looking for an affordable diaper bag that has a lot of storage space and is trendy, the Internet is your best friend. You can easily find product recommendations, their reviews, and even a few locations where you can get them.
Another perk of the digital age is modern technology. It has ensured more safe and high-quality parenting products for parents. For example, if you’re a mom trying to transition your toddler from a crib to a kid bed — or, if you’re a dad wanting to entertain your baby while you get some work done at home — you can always count on tried-and-tested products like ComfyBumpy’s toddler bed rail guard and baby bouncer seat.
Also read: Baby Safety Tips for Babywearing Essentials
Finding your parent community
On top of online blogs telling you ‘X items you need to bring for your next family trip’, the growing parent community may be our favorite part of the digital age. There are many parent and family creators out there who show you the unfiltered sides of parenting: Screaming kids, the spit-covered shirts, the messy buns, and the messy kitchens.
But at the same time, they’ll tell you their stories, and show their day-to-day routines with their family. Many family creators also will share tried-and-true parenting hacks, and share the ones that didn’t work for them.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some our fave parent/family creators on TikTok:
Most importantly, they make us feel less alone as we go through a similar journey.
@wholeparent You will NEVER change my mind about this. #parenting #perfectionist ♬ original sound - Jon | Parenting Educator
Btw, if you’re still looking for a parenting community to join and meet other parents on a similar parenthood journey as yours, why not join ours?
The actual truth
While all of these things make parenthood sound like a dream, there are many parents that face challenges raising their children in the digital age.
In fact, many parents struggle to keep up with technology, and its impact on their family’s lives. One of the biggest issues is high screen time, and many parents are concerned about the way it may affect their children’s developing skills.
Information overload may be another issue faced by modern parents, and it can be overwhelming trying to digest the contrasting information from multiple sources.
The iPad Kid epidemic
As parents’ lives get easier, screen time is a way to occupy their kids’ time. It enables parents to do their work for longer periods of time, and make outings easier. But is too much screen time good for you?
The iPad Kid is a term coined to describe children that are constantly (and literally) glued to their screen since infancy. It started off as a meme on TikTok in 2021, but now it’s a reflection of a millennials’ kids (Gen Alpha) today.
@teresakayenewman Gen Z is right. Ipad kids are having a harder time in school, and have more behavior issues. Teachers see it, Gen Z sees it, why cant millenial parents see it? #teacher ♬ original sound - Newman Music Academy
Over the years, Gen Alpha has turned into some of the most difficult kids to deal with. In fact, many teachers have said that these kids are a nightmare to teach; they’re often rude and disrespectful, and most of them have low attention and concentration spans in the classroom.
@hopeyoufindyourdad @gabesco I am fully on board with what this creator is saying although kids having ipads is a bit inevitable at this point the real issue is regulation and parenting styles #genz #genalpha #millennial #parenting #ipadkid #greenscreenvideo #greenscreen ♬ original sound - Andra
But the Internet’s still safe, right?
As parents in the digital age, there’s a growing need to protect our children from the Internet. In fact, a few family creators have been under fire from “exploiting their kids for views”: That is, posting content that revolves around their children and sharing every aspect of their family’s private lives.
At the same time, due to the constant exposure to the Internet, young children may be subject to various online threats or they “grow up too fast”. Without parental supervision and restrictions on screen time, children may be exposed to more mature content like violent and gory video games/cartoons or over-sexualized content.
Or perhaps, they’ll start mimicking adults by shopping anti-aging skincare and makeup at Sephora.
@vicky.2087 #sephora #kids #girls #10yearoldgirls #beauty #makeup #mess #disaster #brokenitems #shop #parents!!!!!!!!! #educate #manners ♬ original sound - vicky87
Children may also get cyberbullied or lured into doing things by strangers online. More than ever, we need to protect our children’s privacy and safety online.
How can parents keep up with the digital age?
1. Encourage more playtime while you work
Screen time shouldn’t be a solution to occupy and distract your kids as you do other things, like catch up on chores or work. Encourage your children to go out and play, or give them a chance to express their creativity with crayons and paper.
2. Set screen time limits on your devices
At the same time, set screen time limits on your children’s devices. Here are some suggestions of what steps you can take for this:
- Set the time limit: Choose a specific time of the day or week to let them go on their devices (e.g. 30 minutes when they come home from school)
- Download a few apps: On Android and Apple (iOS phones), there is a feature for screen time where you can control the screen time schedule each day. Otherwise, you can download any of these apps for screen time: Bark, FamiSafe, NetNanny, and more.
- Communicate boundaries: Talk to your children about the importance of online privacy and safety, and set a few rules on when they can access their devices at other times of the day.
- Be accountable: Set realistic expectations for your children in regard to screen time and start off with small time limits to help them transition into a consistent routine.
3. Monitor the apps and sites your children are visiting
In 2023, The Hill reported that YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are some of the most used social media platforms for teens today.
On top of limiting screen time, parents should also monitor their children’s activities online. One of the ways to do this is to download apps that let you block their access to certain sites, apps, and online games. These apps include Norton Family, Qustodio, Aura, NetNanny, and more.
4. Parental social media guidance
As teens typically spend a lot of time on social media, teen online safety is another issue that parents may face today. As the parent, you can communicate boundaries with them, highlight the importance of online safety, and encourage them to create a private social media account.
Besides a private account, you can also make use of the platform features that are designed to aid online teen safety. Earlier in January (2024), Instagram released new features to help ensure teens have more safe, age-appropriate digital experiences online. For this case, you can toggle the control settings to restrict age-inappropriate content from their Search bars and Explore feeds.
Whereas on TikTok, you can filter certain keywords from their For-You Pages (FYP), and turn on Family Pairing to access these features:
- Screen time dashboards
- Restricted modes
- Monitoring likes, shares, and DMs
- Push notification controls
- Linked account activity
4. Create tech-free zones
Another way you can reduce your children’s screen time is to limit digital media when they’re young and implement tech-free zones as they grow older. For example, no phones at the dinner table, or turning off the TV an hour before bed.
Here are a few steps you can take to create a tech-free zone:
- Put all mobile devices (phones and iPads) in one dedicated spot that’s far for your children to reach for an hour or two.
- Set up an actual tech-free zone without digital distractions. For example, a mini library or a playroom for kids.
- Communicate and set boundaries on tech usage in these zones to your family.
- Create a weekly or daily routine that incorporates digital-free activities with your family.
5. Do your research
There are so many new products and services for parenting and for your children. You can research kid-appropriate apps for your little ones, as well as new products that can help ease your daily routines.
Besides the Internet, the online community is another way to share tips and tricks and learn a lot of things. In this case, you can find out which tech products do and do not work, which ones to avoid, and which ones that aren’t so bad despite what many people might say.
And If you’re lucky enough, you’ll make a few friends along the way.
One last thing…
Although it’s important to set screen limits on our kids’ devices, you also can’t deny how more and more kids are on social media now. It’s how they socialize and learn more about the world. As a parent, you can set boundaries and monitor your child’s activity online.
Also… If in some way you’re feeling overwhelmed by the info overload of parenting tips from too many articles and family creators, come to us. We wanna help you simplify your parenthood journey with our blogs and resources.
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Featured image by freepik