Parenting isn’t easy. It never has been and likely never will be. Yet the joys and rewards of raising children can surpass any hardships. Juggling multiple kids of varying ages and stages can lead to one chaotic but beautiful household.
Being a parent today means something different than it did 10, 20, 30, or more years ago. Your parents didn’t have to even think about many of the factors that go into parenting today. Sure, technology today has made life a lot simpler in some ways. On the other hand, it also puts parents in harder positions when it comes to deciding what is best for their children.
The good thing is that all parents today are dealing with these new developments. From cell phones to digital devices to social media, these advancements can make parenting decisions even harder. Keep reading to discover what types of challenges parents today can expect and how to best manage them.
Yes, smartphones are a blessing in some ways. However, as any parent will tell you, kids are addicted to cell phones. From the time they can start reaching for something, young babies are drawn to these devices. They see their parents, their siblings, and everyone around them looking at the phone, and they want to as well.
Besides looking at the phone, the other challenge when it comes to smartphones is ensuring it is safe for kids. Children are smarter than we think and can quickly search for something or go onto apps in a mere instance. A phone without any boundaries is a wide-open door to the unknown — not something that parents want to give their children!
Fortunately, there are phones for kids that provide just communication functions without all the bells and whistles of traditional mobile devices. These devices can be helpful for parents who want to stay connected with their kids when they leave the house. And because these phones don’t have apps or social media, children are less likely to spend hours on them. Simpler can be better, and these phones prove why.
2. Social Media
Another blessing but also a curse is social media. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram were originally intended for friends and family members to stay connected. The influence of social media has expanded with the rise of brands and public figures gaining attention and attraction. Not to mention, there are numerous new platforms coming out each year. Snapchat and TikTok are two mediums that kids today are enchanted by.
For parents, social media is another hurdle to overcome. Research shows the average age a child has their first social media account is 12.6! If you think back to when you were a budding teenager, you certainly weren’t logging onto Instagram and posting photos. The temptation to allow your child to have their own account can often be hard for parents to navigate.
Before your child gets their own account, have a conversation with them to explain the pros and cons of social media. Be honest that you are nervous about them having their own accounts. This can help put things into better perspective with them. Also, be sure to have their login account information handy so they know you are monitoring their behavior. These tips can help ensure your child is developing responsible and safe social media habits from a young age.
3. Global Pandemic
The global pandemic has been challenging for everyone, especially parents. With the world turned upside down, COVID-19 threw everyone for a loop. The intensity and length of the pandemic have impacted children in ways that we are still trying to determine. Kids notice when their parents are stressed, too, and many times put this stress on themselves.
When COVID struck, children were forced to stay at home, isolated from their friends, and quickly adapt to virtual, remote learning. Additionally, parents were losing their jobs and stretching dollars to make ends meet. These factors contributed to more pressure and stress for families. It should come as no surprise that this emotional strain has had clinical results. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found an increase in the number of mental health-related ER visits by children during the pandemic.
Be sure to pay attention to any changes in your child’s behavior and general mood. As a parent, you should be able to recognize when your children aren’t behaving normally. Take the time to talk to your children, sharing your thoughts and how you are feeling. This can open the door for them to express their own emotions. Of course, if professional help is needed then reach out to find a therapist either in-person or virtually.
Parents today have a lot more to think about than their own parents’ generation. That said, there is more help and resources available than ever before for parents. Reach out to friends or join a local or virtual parenting community to ask other parents how they are navigating certain scenarios. You will make mistakes as a parent. But remember that no type of parenting is perfect, and your decisions are unique for your family’s needs.
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