On Sunday I was browsing the yoghurts whilst doing our weekly shop in Asda and I couldn’t help but hear two women speaking very loudly about parenting. I would say both ladies were in their fifties or sixties, one was a member of staff and the other was a member of the public. I was quite shocked and annoyed by what they were saying and the fact that they were saying it so loudly, in a place full of parents doing their shopping.
These ladies were discussing how parents today don’t parent anymore and referred to today’s parents as tablet parents. I couldn’t quite believe how negative they were being and glanced at them in a WTF are you saying kind of way but they didn’t see me, and as tempting as it was to go and confront them I decided it probably wasn’t the best idea, but it made me question how I parent James. Am I a ‘tablet parent’?
I do let James watch the iPad but this doesn’t mean he is watching the iPad all day. What exactly do they mean by a ‘tablet parent’? Their attitude gave me the impression that they thought today’s parents were lazy and couldn’t be bothered to bring their children up properly, that they relied on iPads as a form of entertainment to give them an easy life.
What I wanted to say to them is that times have changed and just because a child is allowed to have screen time doesn’t mean that they aren’t being brought up properly. Many of the things James watches on the iPad or the TV are educational and I know he has learnt a lot from this. I don’t allow James to just sit in front of the TV or iPad for long periods of time and to be honest he wouldn’t actually want to, he doesn’t keep still for long enough.
The world we live in is very different to the world these ladies were brought up in. They would probably be the first to complain that it’s not safe for children to be out playing by themselves all day. There are more cars on the roads, estates are more built up, people worry more about things happening to their children. Maybe this is because we hear more about bad things happening in the media that it makes us worry so much. Parents in their day probably let their children go off outside for hours on end, giving the parents valuable time to get things done around the house.
Today’s parents don’t get that free time, they are either working or parenting, meaning that when they do need to do something around the house, the iPad or TV gives them that time. James typically watches the iPad in the morning while I finish getting ready and then the TV when I am cooking dinner. At the moment he also watches the iPad while he eats, which I don’t see as too much of a problem, but as he gets older and can hold a conversation I will save screen time for when he is away from the dinner table.
Technological advances mean that today’s children need to learn how to use an iPad and be aware of how technology is used. The job that James may end up doing may not even exist yet, and the world is likely to become more reliant on the tech savvy generation. As technology changes, parenting changes because you have different options available. Parenting is hard and there is nothing wrong with a child watching some TV or something on an iPad. I am sure if these ladies had this option in their day then they would have taken full advantage. For all we know in the future children could be cared for more by robots, whilst the parents go to work, which would be one way to combat the extortionate cost of childcare.
As with most things in life I think it should be in moderation. I try to take James outside for some fresh air and a run around every day, which he seems to prefer than watching the iPad anyway. James gets entertained by his books and toys, the iPad / TV and running around outside. As times change we have to adapt to new things, new technological advances, new ways to entertain children. The world is constantly changing and adapting, and parenting styles will be the same. That doesn’t mean that one parenting style is better than the other, they just have to adapt with the times, and loudly criticising modern parents in a supermarket could easily offend, you don’t know what struggles other people are going through. There is more than one way to parent effectively.