As times change, the role of “mother” evolved. Years ago, moms were expected to care for the children, cook dinner, and keep a tidy home. Now we are also expected to “lean in” with our jobs, share our lives on social media, be strong role models, educate, monitor our children’s food, keep up on the latest parenting news, and ensure that our children will be successful, well-adjusted, and happy. It’s a lot on any mom’s plate.
Technology has had an especially large role in this evolution. It changes our world quickly and we are left trying to adapt while figuring out what’s best for our family.
Often we fall into the trap of using technology in negative ways – ways that take us mentally away from our children or that put us in a damaging mindset. Here are some challenges – and some solutions! – that have emerged in these technological times.
1. Social media.
It is amazing. You can catch up with old friends, find decorating inspiration, and meet new friends with just a computer and a little time. But social media can have its downside too, especially when it comes to parenting. It can seem that everyone is doing just a little better than you are. Most moms post the best parts of their lives – crafts they’ve created, parties they’ve thrown, decorating they’ve achieved, perfectly posed photos of their clean and well-behaved children. When we look at other’s pages while wiping macaroni from the kitchen walls, it’s sometimes hard to not think, “How do they have their lives so together?” Deep down we know that it’s easy to make your life look great on Facebook or make your parties look enviable on Pinterest. But it’s easy to forget.
Solution – Although it’s easy to just unplug, we often throw the baby out with the bathwater by then also losing connections to some of our out-of-town friends. And un-friending slightly annoying Facebook mommies can bring its own set of problems.
Instead, simply block them from your news feed. Hover over their name, and when the box pops up, click “Show in News Feed”. They will still be your friend and you can go to their page to check on how they are occasionally, but their updates won’t show in your feed.
2. Smart phones.
We all love them. The apps, the calls, the texting – they are a wondrous development of technology. Except when they take us away from interacting with other people. How many times have you hoped to make conversation with another mom at the park so that you can talk about something other than apple juice and Wonder Pets, but all of the moms have their noses buried in their iPhones. It makes connecting to our kids and other moms that much more difficult.
Solution – The obvious change would be to use the phone less. But the smart phone can be an excellent tool for the busy mom. So I would suggest just using your phone, well, smarter. Many apps, such as Avocado, Timeout Timer, and CollegeSave can make your life a little easier and more efficient. Even those social apps can make a stay-at-home moms’ life a little less isolated. Just make sure that when there is real human interaction to be had, you consider putting the phone away for just a bit.
When we were kids, our moms had a much easier time choosing what television was kid-friendly. If Sesame Street or Square One was on, it was educational. If something else was on, it was probably time to switch off the T.V.
But with the advent of DVRs, dedicated children’s stations, not to mention apps, it can be difficult to know what is best for your child. Is it educational or strictly entertainment? Is it designed to sell products? Does it push gender stereotyping? Is there any violence, even in a campy way?
It is amazing and wonderful that so much programming is geared towards educating young children, but it also makes each show an overwhelming choice for the parent.
Solution – It has been suggested that a parent watch each show prior to her children to vet it for any negative points. This is great if you have the time and the patience to endure more shows that are intended for children when you finally get some alone time.
Another solution would be to check it on a site like CommonSense Media. They have done the vetting for you and show information such as appropriate age, violence, and reviews. It’s definitely my go-to when a new show catches my daughter’s eye.
It’s everywhere. And now that the Internet can get us whatever information we want at any time, the media can come into our homes nearly constantly. It can affect our children by telling them what they are supposed to wear/do/be. It can affect us by giving us an unrealistic parenting ideal to live up to and feeling that we need to buy more to give our kids the best advantage. It can affect our society by creating a romanticized idea of parenting that may reduce the amount of support parents need. Bottom line, the constant media stream can be overwhelming.
Solution – Ignoring or avoiding media completely is difficult if not impossible. Instead use it as a way to begin a discussion with your kids – Why are only boys in this commercial for toy dinosaurs? Is that fair? What do they mean by “part” of a complete breakfast? Are families really always happy like in the ads? Why aren’t there more dads in ads for kids’ food?
The questions can begin some healthy conversations on important topics. A great article about teaching kids about stereotypes in media is found here.
5. The Internet.
What an amazing source of information! It has created such an easy way of finding information that we’ve made “Google” into a verb. The downside is that there is just SO MUCH information out there. And not all of it is valid. Anyone can put their opinion online, claim it as truth, and, if enough people believe them, it becomes common knowledge. This is exactly what Myth Busting Mommy is fighting against.
Solution – Keep an eye out for studies that seem biased or spun. Find links to the original study to evaluate it. You can use this guide to determine if the information is worth absorbing or should be ignored.
It is amazing to live in an era of change, information, and technology. And it’s only the beginning. The technology that our children will embrace in their lifetimes is beyond our comprehension.
So, as the good role model that you are, find ways to use it to make parenting easier and more positive. And your children will learn that technology is a great asset when we use it well.
In what ways have you seen technology change parenting?
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