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Technology and Parenting! Friend or Foe

I often find myself questioning and analysing from two (not always) seemingly different perspectives. That of a parent and one that comes as part of the territory as an educator in the education space. I will gladly admit that my experience as an educator makes me a more patient mother but ever heard the line, “it is easier to give advice than practice it?” Like most parents, my dilemmas and debates continue when the discussion involves technology.

I have read many articles about the terrors associated with technology for the modern day parent and engaged in many discussions as well; lots to be happy about, and plenty to reflect upon with no easy answers to take sides but honestly, finding a path that works for you as a family perhaps is the key to harmony.

Like most things in life that become extreme or excessive, technology is no different.

As adults (and i consider parenting in the modern age tougher than yesteryears) while we aim to become ‘able role models’ for our children, how many working parents or otherwise are caught on their phones beyond reasonable hours – “just checking up” on stuff that doesn’t need our attention at that very moment?!  In the same breath, we lecture our children about getting off their gadgets because it will “harm” them in different ways. What we cannot control as adults, how can we possibly expect the little ones to adopt? ‘Walk the talk’ is a given in this modern world as our children question the norm often and simply will not be guided by an order. It is a tough world!  With more exposure comes more questioning and defiance when answers provide no meaningful explanations – yeah being a parent is tough!!!

Do not get me wrong, i am not suggesting that technology (uncontrolled) is great exposure; i am questioning whether our approach needs a change?

The question to ask ourselves as parents is, how can this technology that drives the world today aid parenting instead of hampering it? For me, personally (and i have lived my professional life like that) every challenge presents an opportunity and we can use things to our advantage …. Because technology for a fact drives home a distinct advantage and does make life easier.

The word ‘controlled’ exposure therefore is critical. As a seventies child, I belonged to a generation that was introduced to the powers of www only when we were in college – how can i even judge!!!!?!). But if my son spends every waking minute on the ipad with terror games, downloading you tube links – there is a danger i will admit very similar to an OTC drug administered like crocin without a need!

Technology is out there as much as we would like to use it, or allow ourselves and our family to, the question is, did we use to our advantage or convenience and when the “little fly” become a monster, did we become concerned because we didn’t set the rules in the first place? Why did we let it become a monster? Can this monster be tamed?

Yes it can….

  • Distracting them from the screen, means providing them with an alternative like board games, taking a walk, reading with them, or playing some sport or listening to music …. alternatives must be thought through.
  • Defining rules and spending enough time explaining the pros and cons to children will aid parenting troubles with technology.
  • Supervise the time, create schedules for them, instead of gaming, try research-time and how these ‘apps’ like grammarly for instance to correct their language or dapple with padlet or kahoot to make it fun or showing them how Prezi saves enormous time and looks great
  • Let us also be honest, instead of handing them our cell phones in a restaurant to ‘keep them occupied’ lets engage in conversations with them and share … Lets also be prepared to make some sacrifices in actually, restraining ourselves with our own use of technology. Walk the Talk??

As an educator, i will promise you there are distinct advantages that technology brings, its knowledge and use is critical in making more connections and bringing the world closer to our home-rooms but we do not substitute technology for ‘nuts and bolts’ so as parents, the request would be to do the same.

A leading scientist in New York recently reflected, ‘technological progress has made scientific discovery staggering in the past 50 years. I consider it an able partner’. Perhaps we can reflect upon this and change our mindset to this wonderful powerhouse of learning called technology. Control it as we do with all other ‘undesirables’. And we just may have an able partner.


Fatema Agarkar

Founder, Agarkar Centre of Excellence Veteran of 3 educational start-ups – is now a Founder of Agarkar Centre of Excellence, Fatema’s passion for teaching-learning and children defines the different roles she has crafted – as an edupreneur, educator and mentor.

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