I thought it could be eye-opening to do a comparison of how technology has affected parenting, now and back when my mother was raising little ones. I sent my mother a list of questions to think about, and, thanks to the wonder that is the internet, she got me back her answers in record time. It was interesting for me to see her answers and draw conclusions based on this very scientific survey of one person. I’ve split up the questions and answers into three groups: communication, day-to-day, and takeaways.
Today we’ll look at my mother’s observations about how technology affects young moms. You’ll notice my thoughts/conclusions in italics.
Q. Based on your observations, how do you think technology has made things easier for young moms?
A. Academically kids are so much more advanced at an earlier age nowdays, an ipad, or an educational tv program take the place of a personal tutor .
I have to say that I love the educational programing for kids on PBS, as well as the availability of so many educational apps for smartphones and tablets. Maybe that’s the geek in me. My oldest is only three, so we have yet to see what kind of positive impact these educational tools will make. But I must mention that the programing and apps are not a replacement for parental attention and instruction, but rather great things to incorporate into instruction time with mommy and daddy.
Q. Based on your observations, how do you think technology has been a negative to young moms?
A. Moms have to make a more conscious effort to engage / be creative in playtime and recreational time with their children – it is too easy to let the tv entertain them. Walks to parks, outdoor activities very rare nowdays. I heard it said that in our day, the greatest play tool was ‘outside.’
I’d say that moms have always had to make a conscious effort to engage with their kids, it’s just become even more difficult. Moms have so many responsibilities and competing priorities. Giving the best of ourselves to anyone and everything other than our kids and even our spouses has always been a problem. As an introvert, I can also say that introverts are at a disadvantage because we’re drained by lengthy interaction with anyone, even our children. I’ve often thought that extroverts must find it easier to be stay-at-home moms, but they probably have their own issues.
I’m surprised by the turn that this interview with my mother took. I expected to learn that the young moms of today have many advantages over the young moms of 40 years ago, and aren’t we so lucky to live in 2013? But I’ve concluded that just the opposite is true. Moms of 40 years ago and today have/had common struggles: communicating with the “outside world”, getting food on the table, engaging with our kids. Today we have more numerous and faster options for communication and entertainment, but the quality of communication with those that really matter (our children, spouses, people that are physically present in our lives) is lower.
So what’s my answer to, “How has technology changed parenting in the last 40 years?”
Advances in technology have presented distractions that appeal to our selfish nature and tend to isolate us. Being a good parent has never been more difficult.