Parenting in the Digital World

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (7:59 PM)


 For my final project, I have been exploring the past, present, and future of parenting and assessing the impact that technology and digital media has on parents and parenting methods. It is a clear fact that parenting has changed in the past 25 years. While this change does somewhat stem from sociological shifts and the variations of the family paradigm, the change is intensely fostered by the increase in the use of technology for both parents and children.

I began my research by exploring the changing family paradigm, more specifically the breakdown of the nuclear family and societal norms in regards to the roles of moms and dads. More parents nowadays are practicing “tag-team parenting,” a non-overlapping shift work strategy for balancing family and work time that allows parents to cut costs on child care and allows the parents to provide for their children on their own.

While initially I had thought that with more moms working (The number of stay at home mothers has decreased to 22.6% in 2009 compared to nearly 25% in 2007) and the increase in the amount of single-parent families (In 1980, 18% of children were living with one parent; while in 2007, the number increased to 25.8%), that the amount of parenting time has decreased. To my surprise, a 2010 study found that moms spend about 12 hours/week with kids, compared to 21.1 hours/week in 2007. Additionally, Men spent 9.6 hours/week in 2007, up from 4.5 in 1995.

From here, I researched where the extra time was coming from. Tying into my earlier research on the changing family paradigm, mothers now are spending less time cooking and cleaning the house and spending more time with their children. Additionally, shifting societal norms has loosened the pressure on couples to have children; as studies have shown that children are no longer considered essential components to a healthy and happy marriage. It is assumed, then, that those that do have children are prepared to invest quality time into parenting.

For those that do choose to have children, they have placed an increased valuation on parenting. One of the roadblocks that I have encountered is trying to pin-point why exactly parents are more involved in activities such as playing with and chauffeuring for kids as well as organizing and attending kids’ extracurricular and education-related activities. The answer to this matter is a complex one. One explanation is that the increased prevalence of 24-hour news shows and journalistic strategies such as “fear mongering,” in addition to shows such as CSI and Law and Order, has cultivated a “Culture of Fear.” The events of 9/11 have further enhanced this fear, and stricter safety laws (such as required bike helmets) are indications that society has become more safety-conscious. National safety measures tightened, and people became more fearful of strangers. Alas, this cycle of fear is motivated by real safety concerns and media coverage.

All of my posts thus far on my blog,, have been researched-based and have been focused on the changing structures of families and societal norms thus far. The arrangement of the posts is exactly as outlined in this post– so that the viewer can go through the journey with me from the past, to the present, to the future of parenting, by scrolling down.

From here, the questions that I am going to explore in Phase 2 will be how the influx in the use of the Internet and cell phones in the household has affected modern parenting methods and patterns. Specifically, I will be drawing on the affects of: social media, Pintrest/blogs/etc., child-tracking apps, and the overall increase in information access. A potential perplexity I will have to balance is the pros and cons of the prevalence of technology in the household. Changing family practices do not just point to technology as the instigator, there are other factors that can lead to overparenting, for example. In Phase 2, I am excited to explore these factors and highlight how technology has enhanced or changed parenting methods in an increasingly plugged-in world.

*Questions for the class*

  1. Do you think that “overparenting” (basically, parents micro-managing/controlling kids) is a problematic parenting pattern? How might it affect their kids?
  2. Do you think that technology facilitates “overparenting”?
  3. What surprises/concerns you the most about current or future parenting practices/methods in regards to technology?

For any of you that are babysitters or have younger siblings, could you please answer these questions:

  1.  Do the kids have restrictions on the amount of time they can use the Internet/TV/phones etc.?
  2.  What types of technologies are the kids “into” that might be different from what you grew up with?
  3.  Do the kids have social media such as Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, Instagram etc.?
  4. Do their parents have social media?
  5. Do their parents have restrictions on what they are allowed to do on social media/the Internet/cell phones?
  6. Do any of them utilize “tracking apps” so that they can keep tabs on their children?
  7. Do one or both parents have a job/work?

*It would be useful to know their ages, too.




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Rachel said...

1. Absolutely. A lot of important life skills rely on your ability to learn how to make choices and take action on your own, and overparenting can really stunt the development of those skills. I wish I were kidding when I say I know someone who had never put in his own contact lenses until he went to college — that’s a problem. Growing up requires that you be able to learn and choose and make mistakes, and overparenting prevents those things.
2. Sometimes. I watch commercials for things like the Xfinity home system, which lets you check security cameras while you’re away, and I kind of wonder if we’ve gotten to the point where parents don’t just not trust strangers, but don’t even trust their kids anymore.
3. I think, like anything, it’s all in how you use it. Technology can be a useful asset, but it’s also possible for things to escalate to a point where its use is unhealthy.

// 04/21/2014 at 9:29 pm

Emily said...

I definitely think that overparenting can be problematic. It can lead to kids acting out whenever outside the home because of their restrictions while inside the home. I also think the home should be a place filled with love and comfortableness, etc. Without those things, the home is no longer a safe haven and is no longer a cherished place. I think technology has the potential to facilitate overparenting. Putting website locks and tv locks on certain channels can shelter a child. Also, my high school used to block facebook, gaming sites, along with others and we just found ways to break those barriers and use it anyway. It’s better to be able to monitor those things rather than completely restrict them. I found your statistics interesting in that in 2010 moms only spent 12 hours per week with their kids. This is definitely due to the increase in technology because you can just hand them your iPhone or iPad to distract them. (Which I get you need a break sometimes). I also find it really surprising that the amount of time dads spent with their kids has increased.

// 04/21/2014 at 9:40 pm

Molly said...

1) Growing up in a relaxed household, with little rules I actually found ( and I may be biased) that over parenting seems to really become suffocating to the children. Only based off my experiences and my friends, I found that in high school, during the rebelling age, my friends who has strict curfews, and parents who micromanaged there lives tended to act out much more then myself and other friends who lived under more lax rules. I think its also part of the teenager mentality that when someone, especially a parents tells you no! or you can’t do that.. its likely you do. I think its important to have structure, and rules in place but not the point where it becomes overbearing. I also think it enables you child to make decisions on their own. I think a lot of growing up is trial and fire, and you need to learn from experiences and consequences both good and bad. If parents don’t allow their children to make their own decisions, or try to over parent them it can be problematic in the future.

2)I think technology can both facilitate and destroy over parenting. I think its over parenting, when you have a GPS or “find my friends” tracker on your child’s cell phone and parental controls on websites, tv channels etc. ( well some, I understand). But I also think technology allows parents to not parent, or parent less. I think some parents use technology (ipads/tv/Gameboy etc.) as a means to get their child out of their hair. This is totally a generalization and I think technology exposure is good in some doses, but I do feel like it can be used in a negative way.

3)My biggest concern is probably the growing role in technology is that it will eventually replace parenting methods. Instead of trusting yourself to teach your kids how to talk, read etc. you use a form of technology, whether it be a tv program or opad game. I think this can be really effective in reinforcing what children are learning, but I do worry that it is slowly replacing traditional practices that are essential to the wellbeing of a child, and their learning process, as well as the chemistry in the family structure.

// 04/21/2014 at 9:50 pm

Alexandra said...

1. Yes, I think that over parenting is a problematic parenting style. I also believe that this style of parenting has existed previous to the advent of technology. BUT technology certainly has increased the ability for parents to monitor their children. Though, the increase in outlets online have also required parents to monitor their children more. In previous times, children were given curfews and their parents had to trust that their children were being responsible when they were outside of the home. Now that parents can be in constant contact with their children it opens up the ability to never allow the child grow a sense of self- responsibility and trust between a child and their parent, and more importantly within the child themselves.

2. I think it really depends on the actions of the parent. Reading your child’s text messages is the 21st century equivalent of reading their diary. The means to spy and pry on a child’s life are more available today, but children also tend to share more in public outlets today. Technology certain allows for parents to “overparent”, but it can’t force them to track their children or read their personal messages. These decisions are up to the individual, and whether a parent chooses to do so or not, speaks more their personal character and less to the nature of technology.

3. What concerns me the difficult situation that I believe that many parents feel that they are in, in between protecting their children and allowing them to develop and express themselves. While this is an age old situation, I think that the stakes are so much higher now. Between online bullying, sexting, online predators, and the ability to share so much information with such a wide audience instantly, the dangers that child can encounter have much greater consequences than missing curfew. I think this is going to be the real question that parents will have to ask themselves as their children develop in the technological 21st century.

// 04/22/2014 at 1:00 pm

Cora said...

1. I do believe that “over parenting” can be a problematic parenting pattern. If parents take too much control of their child’s life, the child will never be able to have personal experiences, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. While do think think parental supervision is more necessary in this day in age, with the Internet and all of the easily available information it provides, I think that it all has to be in balance. If parents hold on too tight, a kid is more likely to try and rebel and defy them. Children mature by learning how to make their own choices and dealing with the outcomes. If you completely take that away from them, you are closing them off to a world of knowledge and growth.

2. In some ways I think technology can facilitate over parenting. You see parental lock applications of TV’s, iPhones, iPads, computers etc. I think that these functions are necessary today. The amount of information kids have access to on the internet, whether it is age appropriate or not, is continuously being thrown at them. Although I think some parents might use these tools to a more extreme extent, I think they can be quite useful in protecting child from inappropriate media.

3. What concerns me most is how many kids are being given technology at a young age. Parents seem to use technology as a stand-in baby-sitter or mere distraction when they are otherwise pre-occupied. I think this pattern of kids receiving phones, computers etc. at decreasing ages will inhibit their intellectual growth and ability to communicate face-to-face. Furthermore, technology will take the place of potential real-life learning experiences they might encounter.

// 04/22/2014 at 3:28 pm

Deirdre said...

1. Yes. Kids might be abusing the power that their parents don’t give them, and might be less controlled after being raised in an environment that is too controlled. However, abuses of technology seem to be a huge problem in kids, and I think they need to be somewhat limited by their parents.

2. No. I think controls over technology are crucial to parenting. I think parenting practices might change drastically as the use of technology invades every space even more so than it already has. Parents need to control their kids’ use of technologies so that we don’t develop a world in which people are even more dependent on technology than we are now.
1. No. The kids I babysit for don’t have any technological restrictions, yet they don’t abuse their privileges because they’ve never been deprived of tv, iPad use, internet.

2. The 6 year old I babysit knows how to work an iPad better than I do, which is surprising. It’s interesting to see how well the younger generation understands technology. We grew up with much less advanced technology, and that’s reflected in the slight advantage that the younger kids have over us in understanding really complex technologies.

3. No. They are 4 and 6 so they’re too young for those things…but i’m sure in several years they’ll be using various forms of social media.

4. No, they do not.

5. Yes. There are very specific controls on their home computers and iPads. None of these restrict social media, they are just the general child controls similar to what my parents had on our computers when I was younger.

6. No, but eventually I’m sure that will be something that all parents will do.

7. Yes, both do.

// 04/23/2014 at 10:29 am

Cassaundra said...

1) Yes because you run the risk of the parent almost trying to redo/ live vicariously through their child. The child in turn runs the risk of not being able to pursue their own passions. For example, parents could force their child to take piano when the child would rather play soccer. Academically, kids already put a decent amount of pressure on themselves, so parents getting too involved through forcing them into tutors or things of that nature put extra, and maybe even dangerous, pressure on their children.

2) I think technology more so promotes over involvement in terms of parents always wanting to know what their child is up to via their social media sites. I am glad that neither of my parents have any social media accounts.

3) I think its possible to use technology well as a parent as long as the child is able to get their own space. What really worries and shocks me is when I see very young children playing with iPhones and iPads, as well as relatively young kids who have their own iPhones and iPads.

// 04/23/2014 at 12:06 pm

Kevin said...

1. I think that overparenting is not necessarily a bad thing when dealing with really young children (perhaps 7 and under) because they need proper guidance in order to navigate their surroundings. It seems like this is really the age where overparenting kids can actually benefit their development. For example, a five year old who is not given any direction will probably default to watching television, and they really cannot be blamed for this decision. However, once a child is over, I believe that overparenting affects a child’s ability to develop proper decision making skills. Once reaching the age of eight years old and above, it seems that children must start to develop the ability to make self-sufficient decisions that are beneficial to their development.

2.I think this is definitely Yes and No. Yes, technology facilitates overparenting in the sense that parents can always get in touch with their children. As a result, children are never really on their own, but are always a phone call away from their parents telling them what to do. However, I also think technology can fill the void of an absentee parent because a child with no direction will most likely default to technology in this day and age. Thus, technology has the capability to fill time when parents are not directing their children, but also can provide parents with the ability to constantly be in contact with and influence the decision making of their children

3. I’m most concern with the idea of technology replacing parenting. Instead of parents spending time teaching their children basic skills, perhaps they will learn these skills on the iPad. I just worry that children will lose that human connection with their parents and the youth learning process will be handled primarily by technology. I do not think that is the case today, but as we grow increasingly dependent on technology, I believe it could be a possibility years down the road.

I do not babysit or have young siblings. Sorry!

// 04/24/2014 at 11:45 am

Eliza said...

Do you think that “overparenting” (basically, parents micro-managing/controlling kids) is a problematic parenting pattern? How might it affect their kids?
- Yes, if you do not let children lose and figure things out for themselves they will either become too dependent on you or rebel. Entering college, several of my friends had never had a sip of alcohol, and when they left their parents they had no idea what their limit was. This turned out to be very problematic for some of my peers.

Do you think that technology facilitates “overparenting”?
- You could argue yes and no on this questions. Yes because there are many different resources now to obtain information. And no, because with technology parents can leave there children for hours and not be worried about them because they are just hanging out playing on an iPad or researching on a computer.

What surprises/concerns you the most about current or future parenting practices/methods in regards to technology?
- It concerns me that parents will become way too involved in their children’s lives. Parents need to learn to trust their kids and have faith that the way they were raised will give them the backbone to say no to certain sites. Parents need to learn to step back off their children and let me learn certain things out on their own.

// 04/26/2014 at 12:15 pm

Claire said...

1. I think it defiantly is in today’s society. It was not how I was raised so that might make be biased against it but I feel that over parenting does not allow your children to develop the appropriate responses to situations. Your children will never know how to react to hard and upsetting situations in their adult like if they never learn in childhood how to cope.
2. I think technology allows a lot of parents an easy way to distract their children and not have to entertain them themselves. I don’t really think it contributes to over parenting though.
3. It really surprised me when you talked about fear mongering in parents and how media is just heightening the fear in parents about the downfall of their children. I had never looked at it from that perspective however it does make sense. However this does concern me in that this availability of media is not decreasing its only increasing so this fear mongering might only escalate.

I don’t have any younger siblings

// 04/28/2014 at 12:54 pm