Parenting is quite an idiosyncratic activity. It is not possible to gain a parental qualification, so it is thus not possible to have a scenario whereby my parenting doctorate trumps your diploma. Perhaps fortunately this is a good thing, as recent generations would likely insist that parents keep up to date with ongoing CPD (continued parental development).
Much of our parenting approach is derived from our own experiences as a former consumer, from what we have read, and from what we see other parents do. The trouble is that when it comes to the digital age, there are no case studies, and no playbook.
- How much is too much when it comes to device time?
- At what point did the dinner table place mats morph into Internet access devices?
- How many is too many when it comes to concurrent live devices?
- When does online banter become cyber bullying?
- Why does my ‘authority’ carry even less weight online?
- Does sitting in a room playing with a device, alongside your children, constitute family quality time?
There was a time when parents fretted that their business travel would result in poor bonding with their children. There is no reason today, why you cannot eat with your family from anywhere in the world courtesy of Skype and the hotel room service.
Often we use our own childhood relationship with our parents as a reference for our own parenting. That was good, I’ll use that. That hurt. Best not try that. But your parents parented in a different era. The world was less volatile. Work had clear boundaries. Television drove our media consumption. And contact with school friends was not a 24-7 air traffic control exercise.
The digital era is an era of instant hyperstimulation. No need to wait until Saturday to see the next episode. Today you can gorge on the complete series, at a location to suit the consumer. Personal issues relating to school, friends and growing up can be self-medicated by just plugging in and letting the content take over.
Whilst again there is no digital playbook, as parents we need to ensure that our children have the time, space and opportunity to discuss matters important to them. It’s not something that can be arranged by appointment. It is a case of being there when they are ready to talk.
Possibly we are living in a post quality-time parenting world? Perhaps, the new model is quantity time? Being available both physically and virtually is the priority.
And both parents need to communicate sufficiently so that they can work together to support their children. A ‘single view’ of the child is key.
Welcome to omni-channel parenting.