Raising a child in the internet age!

How hectic is it raising a child today? It’s tough, full of pressures and everyone trying to keep up with the Joneses. Parenting is already hard enough as it is, add the pressure of the internet and you automatically go crazy.

I have been a parent for the last 6 years and I can guarantee that it is no easy fete. You try so hard to get things right that you forget about everything and anything else going on around you. You wonder if what you’re feeding, clothing, teaching your child is right. Let’s not get started about the a million and one opinions you get from your neighbor, your sister, you mother, your friends, it’s too much. But luckily, in the end, you get by and raise a pretty okay child.

But there’s one thing that can totally annihilate you and all the efforts you make in parenting; the internet. It’s this thing you get on by just a click on your phone or computer and you’re in a whole other world. Let’s not lie, the internet is great. And to think that we never had it a couple of years ago, how did we survive? You get all the information you need at your disposal. You get caught up with the news, sports, books, movie and TV shows, social media etc. You interact with different people from different backgrounds, races, gender, political and financial backgrounds, and every one of them has their own opinion and ideas.

I remember when I was pregnant, I downloaded several parenting apps and read a myriad of books and boy did they leave me more confused than ever. Since the pressure was too much, I just stuck to what the doc said. When I gave birth, I joined these parenting groups on Facebook and the amount of knowledge I got was overwhelming. I had found a great platform to learn and grow as a parent. And it was comforting to see that I wasn’t the only one struggling with being a new mom.

All was well and dandy until the pressures started kicking in. You see people discussing how their kids are walking at 7 months, or how their kids are teething at 5 months and you start to wonder what’s wrong with your child. Did you do something wrong? You see how parents are weaning their kids with these fancy foods and all you offer yours is malenge and uji. It further gets to you when their kids are dressing in the best threads, going to the best schools and living a life that you can only dream of. Chest pains automatically ensue and you fell like a subpar parent. But mostly, you get by and learn to take the great with the not so great. The internet has a lot to offer, but must be used in a smart and cautious way.

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Upsides

There are a lot of benefits that the internet has to offer you as a parent;

  • Help with your parenting style. Each parent has a way they intend to raise their child. Information online can help grow your style and make credible judgments.
  • You get to learn a lot just by a click on your gadget unlike olden times. There is a lot of parenting material in the net. From articles, blogs, academic researches, medical journals, you get a vast amount of knowledge where you can learn and hone your parenting skills.
  • You can seek advice from other parents but one has to be extremely careful about the advice they take. You receive a wide range of different opinions and counsel.
  • You are able to get great educative content that you can use to teach your child. E.g. during this tough time thanks to Covid-19, one can easily get material for their children to continue learning. Also, schools have embraced using different platforms on the internet to teach their student remotely.
  • You get encouragement and assurance that you are doing a great job. Interacting and participating especially on parenting forums makes one feel part of a team with a common goal. You feel included and encouraged.

Downsides

Although the internet is useful, there are a few disadvantages of being online as a parent;

  • We tend to compare our children to others. With the thousands of parenting groups especially on social media, we can’t help but compare our child’s milestones, personalities and abilities with others. This usually gets to most parents and creates self-doubt.
  • There is a lot of information that you can easily get confused about. E.g. are vaccines good or not, should you use a pacifier or walker etc. As they say, too much of something is poisonous. One has to learn to filter and make important decisions by themselves and not always follow what other parents are doing as every child is unique.
  • We overshare. Due to the constant pressure to keep up, we fall short at protecting our children and overshare. Though this is debatable, some parents will overshare as a way of feeling good about themselves and prove that they are doing a good job. This always leads to parents constantly looking for approval from others as many tend to gauge their parenting success by how many likes, shares and retweets they get. In the search of fame and recognition, we also set a bad example to our children who will also follow suit and try to get approval from strangers online.
  • There is too much pressure from parents that makes you doubt your own parenting abilities. It is extremely hard as you might not be able to provide for your child what others can. So we fake and try to live a life that is not ours. You will constantly see parents try to show off and create a picture that their lives are awesome when in real sense, “vitu ni different kwa ground”.
  • You set yourself up for cyber bullying or become one. When we constantly live our lives online and try to impress, one tends to get trolls who do not approve of what you are doing. But one does not just get bullied from opinions or the depiction the try to create, a simple innocent picture or comment can easily get you harassed. Sometimes, we end up being the bullies ourselves. We criticize, hate and discriminate a fellow parent because of their choices.
  • Due to a lot of pressures going round, your parenting style can be easily altered. This will lead you down a course you never intended and might be difficult to maintain.

In conclusion, always remember to follow your parenting instincts. Do not get sucked up in the pressures of the constantly growing online world. If you have a question, it is good to consult but be cautious before you do anything life altering to your child. Prefer the opinion of a doctor or specialist in serious matters. Always know that all is not as it seems in social media, people fake and try to keep up. So do not get caught up in the whirlwind. Otherwise, strive to be the best parent your child will ever want.

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