Parenting in the Digital Age: Same as It Ever Was

Among the things we want for our children is for them to: have good manners; eat healthy food; be active and engaged; groom themselves; be kind to people and animals; learn, share, and make things; be organized; and, honestly, not be jerks. And pick up their wet towels. And dirty laundry. Without being asked. Ten times. (I’m looking at you, Jack) We want them to be loving and caring and lend a helping hand and to be good citizens of the world.

When you hear parents talking about raising kids in the digital age, it feels like a new job. But if you look at the criteria we set for creating a perfect citizen now, it's really the same as it's ever been.  Every generation has it’s parenting challenges; our generation’s challenge is screens. The next generation will have to figure out sex robots and virtual reality. Believe me, parents of today, we’re getting off easy with Snapchat and selfies.

Parenting challenges look different to us and seem daunting because the world feels so much bigger and far-reaching in ways parents in rural Kansas in 1950 didn’t have to worry. It's the same world, we just have a different view of it through our new digital eye. All we have to is focus our scope.

When considering how best to raise a child in today’s media-rich environment, ask yourself what you value. Emphasize those larger principles in your parenting choices rather than getting caught up in the details. Use them as your roadmap.

What kind of adult do you hope to create?

I want to raise an adult who is kind, empathetic, compassionate, thoughtful, respectful, patient, and thinks critically and creatively. There are other things, but those are the big ones. And really, those things have nothing to do with technology. Or even screens. They just have to do with being a good human.

What is it for you? I believe the principles we have always wanted for our children will be the same in 30 years as they are today (and were 30 years ago). So, it’s important to think about raising technohumans based on the core principles we have always wished for our children and then parenting around those values.

This week I am going to write about specific things you can focus on when raising your children in their media-rich environments. My goal is two-fold: to give you strategies when facing your own parenting challenges; and, to help you see things from your child’s perspective. The world is a lot different today than it was when we were growing up, but the average 10 year old hasn’t a clue things are any different – they’re the same age as the iPhone after all. To them, a dumb phone is our phone booth, but they need us just the same as they always have.