Parenting has always been a demanding yet profoundly rewarding journey to embark on.
Although every generation faces its own unique set of hurdles to overcome, the advent of the digital age, coupled with the widespread effects of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, has presented modern day parents with unprecedented challenges when raising their children.
Technology: Both a Blessing and a Curse
Although technology offers invaluable resources for learning and connection, it certainly comes hand in hand with its own set of pitfalls.
For example, it is no secret that digital platforms are meticulously designed to captivate their users’ attention via the use of notifications, likes, comments, messages, and much more to keep them hooked.
For children, this concoction of stimuli can prove to be especially hard to resist, particularly because they are still developing their own ability to exercise self-control and focus. Prolonged exposure to such digital platforms or applications can therefore have significantly negative impacts on their ability to complete work-related tasks, or even to engage in offline activities, due to a decrease in attention span.
Increasing Reliance on the Digital World
Compounded with the above, the last few years saw the COVID-19 pandemic usher in a monumental societal shift which steered us towards an even more ‘online-centric’ lifestyle than ever before.
This is especially relevant for today’s youth given that, during this time, remote learning became the norm for schools which caused the subsequent migration of a huge portion of everyday societal interactions to online spaces. The result normalised increased screen time for children who had to spend hours attending virtual classes and completing homework digitally or online.
Furthermore, socialising was also heavily impacted with practically everyone having to resort to connecting with friends and loved ones via screens instead of in person due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This increased use of virtual and online spaces presents parents with yet another layer of complications when it comes to ensuring that their children are able to develop well-rounded communication skills.
Often taken for granted, the nuances of facial expressions and body language are an essential part of how we communicate with each other. However, learning these non-verbal cues from in-person interactions with peers is not something that can adequately be replicated within virtual environments.
Overexposure to digital forms of communication can therefore pose a genuine threat to a child’s interpersonal skills as they may end up being deprived of real-life conversations and connections which are essential for their healthy development.
Enforcing Healthy Boundaries
Recognizing the potential pitfalls of the digital world is merely the first step for parents as they will then need to aid their children in creating a balanced and healthy relationship with the digital world.
With more knowledge available to us than ever before via the internet, technology can certainly be a brilliant tool for today’s youth to complement their own learning and enrich their understanding of the world around them. However, it is easy for the use of these devices and platforms to become highly addictive, negatively impacting other areas of their lives.
As such, it is important that parents set healthy boundaries surrounding the use of technology for their children – such as setting screen time limits and encouraging other hobbies and interests that are non-digital. Furthermore, as new applications, games, platforms, and other trends emerge, parents will also need to ensure that they are educated enough on these to be able to assess whether or not their children should have access to them.
Embracing Balance: The Path Ahead
In a world where screens have filtered their way into most parts of our lives, the goal for parents is not necessarily to eliminate technology from their children’s worlds but instead to instil a balanced relationship with it.
Ensuring that a unified approach is employed by both parents where set boundaries and values are jointly enforced and maintained becomes crucial here, especially in family dynamics where co-parenting might be in effect post a separation or divorce.
Neil Graham, a Partner at Grayfords comments as follows: “Every parent wants what is best for their child but striking the right balance between ensuring children have access to the internet and digital games whilst also ensuring that they are not exposed to inappropriate or harmful content or still find time for their homework is not easy. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the right to freedom of expression, to information and to play in addition to the right to privacy and protection from harm. Balancing those rights in the digital age can be a challenge particularly where parents may have different parenting styles but there are plenty of resources available to parents, some of which can be accessed via the links below, to assist in arriving at a mutually supportive approach in the best interests of your child.”
At Grayfords, we understand the importance of enabling people to raise their children holistically and with care so that their needs are consistently met, regardless of any disagreements or conflicts which may occur between their parents. To find out more, book a free consultation with one of our solicitors today.