e Parenting

Having children and raising children is such an evolutionary, day-by-day event. I always think of the quote by Mike Tyson in relation to having children; “everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the face.” Think about it. We all have some set of ideals on how we should parent or raise children. Telling ourselves with our spouses, “I will raise my kids like this,””I will not raise my kids the way my parents did,” so on and so forth. Then life really throws you a curve ball of reality which causes your axis to shift from what you planned, to what do you plan to do now.

I had this idea, albeit deluded, about the manner and way I would raise my children. The Chad and I had talked about it at length when we were daydreaming of kids early in our relationship. Theoretical parenting is so damn easy, much like arm chair parenting; you think you know how other parents should raise their kids based on your own lack of experience. When in fact, each parent and child is completely different. Each generation vastly different. The world we live, completely different.

Never in a million years did I consider how our world would be so drastically transformed in a short period of time. Never did I consider the internet and the accessibility of the net, electronics, and social media channels to be so rampant by the time I had children. I recalled my childhood where the purchase of a computer was a feat and reserved for, what I considered at the time, the wealthy. Now, everyone has a computer in the palm of their hand. Streaming cat videos and porn, selfies for social media like Snap Chat and Instagram, and the utter obsession of self. I cringe now knowing that bullying is everywhere, all encompassing, and never ceasing. Bullying once took place on playgrounds or on the walk home from school. Now, bullying can happen at school, on the walk home, at home via computer and in bed via the cell phone. Constantly connected.

As parents we have perpetuated this situation. From the moment our children are born into this new electronic world we give them television, internet access, tablets, our phones; in a weak attempt to entertain them and keep them occupied. Admittedly, when I had my oldest he would watch a great deal of television. By the age of three he understood some Spanish, could count to 20, and had half of his alphabet. I believed that watching educational shows were helpful, because I watched educational shows like Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact and Mr. Wizard. Long gone are those days. Educational shows of today are YouTube videos and kids playing video games in their rooms.

Then let’s talk about sex. Sex is something we knew happened with just our parents. Our fathers most likely had a stash of smut magazines hidden under the bed, in the closet on a high shelf, or mixed into the magazine rack in our parents bathroom. On occasion you might run across a copy of The Joy of Sex or a VHS tape that was completely unlabeled. Today, kids don’t just happen upon sex like we did snooping at home. Today’s kids are flooded with images across social media, entertainers, celebrities, and of course a simple Google search and they are plunged into the depths of hard core pornography.

Two clicks is all it takes. Two clicks and children can never come back to naivety. As a parent, I was naive myself to think we would have the open talk naturally. The Chad and I consider ourselves common sense parents, liberal enough to have the conversation to educate our children, but conservative enough to not share intimate details too early, knowing your audience. More and more, our children have the accessibility, opportunity, and ability to learn about an adult world too soon. The situation though is a double edged sword with technology.

Our world is advancing at such a speed that just 30 years ago we took a super computer that would take up an entire floor of a building and compressed it into the new norm of a desktop computer, even our phones. So on one side we want our children to be able to keep up with the advancement. Yet, on the other side, we want to shelter them from the dangers that lurk with the advancements, with filters and restrictions without holding them back.

Aside from sex on the internet, children are victim to predators. What used to be a fear of being kidnapped while walking home from school or riding your bike when we were kids is now like shooting fish in a barrel for predators. With online chat, social media, and Location Services where anyone in the world can be pinpointed based on where they used their app on their phone/tablet and tagged themselves. Sadly, even my blog could be a haven for someone with the affinity for preying on children. Hence why I rarely write about my kids these day, and my eldest follows my blog, so I try to remain sensitive to their privacy now that they are older. I digress.

Oh how we have progressed with our technology, yet regressed with using technology as a crutch. Immobilizing our children so that they are so tethered, connected and immersed into devices, gadgets and screens to occupy them as the new reality. Are we adequately preparing our children by engaging them so heavily in technology or are we hindering them and placing them into greater danger due to certain exposures? Are you still old school in parenting or are you a complete e-parent, how is each beneficial?

Karie Herring

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