Recently my husband and I had a discussion about how much simpler life was when we were young. We remember our childhoods as a time where we rode bikes until the streetlights came on, played ball with the neighborhood kids, and went door to door looking for a friend who could come outside and play. Our parents knew our friends because we were either hanging out in person or tying up the home phone line by having actual conversations with them. As teenagers and college kids we checked out real books to do research, bought physical C.D.s to listen to music and looked up phone numbers in the Yellow Pages to order a pizza. In essence, life was more real and more tangible before the internet.
Did Our Parents Have it Easier Than Us?
Back in our day, there was no fear of online bullies. Real life bullies were bad enough! Our parents didn’t have to check our “Friends Lists” to monitor if anything inappropriate was going on. They could pick up the phone in the other room and listen in on our calls or read our intricately folded notes. We couldn’t download inappropriate music or watch anything that wasn’t found on basic cable or at Blockbuster. There was no worry of texting and driving. I’m not sure how could I have even attempted that in my stick shift Geo Metro?! Most of all, our parents got to raise children who had patience and knew how to fill their time when they were bored. No one handed us an iPad or phone when we got restless. Surely, being a parent was so much easier when our moms and dads were bringing us up. Right?
While our parents never had to worry about the dangers of the internet while raising kids, in a lot of ways things were so much harder. When I think of all the ways I benefit from technology when it comes to taking care of my children, I feel downright spoiled compared to my mom and dad. They didn’t have to deal with the downsides of websites, apps, and social media, but they didn’t get to reap the rewards of them either.
Has the Internet Made Parenting Easier?
I’ve been relying on technology since the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first son. I was able to calculate my due date, check symptoms, research doctors, and get pregnancy advice from moms all over the internet. My husband and I could also quickly share belly pictures, birth announcements, and all our baby’s “firsts” with friends and family through the magic of social media. We used apps to track our son’s every nap and bowel movement and could easily play his favorite lullabies or videos in a meltdown-emergency to soothe him.
Now that my kids are a little older, I am online all the time to keep up with their school events, register for sports or camps, and be in the know about family-friendly things going on around town. I “Pinterest” my way through every school project, craft, or party. I’m able to connect with other moms through social media. My road-trip sanity is due to the fact that my boys are entertained by tablets. And, don’t even get me started on all the ways Amazon Prime has saved me as a mom. In many ways, my job as a parent can be done so much more efficiently thanks to online shortcuts and resources.
Take the Good with the Bad
For me, the verdict is still out as to whether parenting is harder or easier in the age of the internet. Perhaps the benefits balance out the risks? One thing I know for sure is that technology and devices are not going away. As our society continues to evolve with apps and social media, so will our approach to parenting. We are fumbling our way through child-rearing as the world changes and just hope we are doing a good enough job. But, that is exactly how parenting has been from the beginning of time!
Technology may have changed the way we parent, but our parents were just as clueless as we are. And we turned out just fine, right?!