Millennials are defined as the generation born from the 1980s to the 2000s. That puts many of them squarely in their child-bearing and raising years and they have a lot of important decisions to make!
Unlike earlier generations, millennial parents grew up with technology. Their teens and twenties were (and are) accompanied by technologies such as email and mobile telephones. By the time they reached adulthood, these technologies were firmly embedded in their daily lives. And now that they are raising their own kids, they are integral aspects of how we all live. Their own children are likely to clamour for a personal smartphone from the age of six or seven and will probably have been adept at using technologies like WhatsApp and Skype from as early as three or four.
Navigating the pros and cons of all of this can be extremely challenging.
On the one hand, Internet and mobile technologies can actually play a wonderful role in keeping far flung families closer together. Couples raising kids far away from grandparents will find that things like Skype make the distance seem much smaller, and their grandparents can still play a regular role in their little ones’ lives, even if they are not physically together very often.
On the other hand, research increasingly shows that excessive Internet and screen use is not good for children’s developing minds, and that it is as important as it ever was that kids spend time outdoors with their friends, playing in the traditional way.
Millenial parents also need to monitor their own use of mobile and other devices. It can be tempting to keep scrolling through our social media messages or reading the news online when we could and should be interacting with our children instead.
A good rule of thumb for growing families is to make the use of devices something that the family does together. As a family, they can use Skype or WhatsApp to chat to Grandma about the latest news. The Internet can be a super resource for researching homework—but it’s important for Mum or Dad to be there to make sure that the child only accesses relevant and age-appropriate information. It can be helpful to have a family rule that dictates that Internet and device use is limited to a particular room—like the family room or living room—and that all technology is put aside for mealtimes, when the family eats together, and when it’s time to go to bed. Above all, parents need to understand that their own behaviour with respect to technology leads the way. If they allow themselves to become addicted, or use it too much or inappropriately, their children will inevitably learn from their behaviour.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.