Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Parenting in the Age of the Internet

As someone who blogs I am clearly a person who uses the Internet a lot. I use Facebook, Blogger, Pinterest, Twitter (rarely), etc. I get my news from the Internet, rarely picking up an actual newspaper (despite the fact that one is delivered to our home every day. It is usually gone by the time I wake up, as Matt reads it on the train. And this is fine, because I don't have time to read the actual "paper"). I keep in touch with family and friends via the Internet. I get parenting advice from, yes, the Internet. And this last item has made me think a lot in recent days.

Clearly, the World Wide Web is an amazing resource. It allows me to feel "connected" to the world and to other moms on a daily basis despite the fact that from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. (on most days) my only prolonged interactions are with children 5 years or younger. As Matt and I continue to struggle to get pregnant (fingers crossed this month!) I have found the web to be an amazing source of support. Friends and family, and even people who I haven't actually talked to in YEARS (some a decade or more) have been so kind with their thoughts, well wishes, and love (some haven't been as supportive, but that's beside the point!)

And yet, despite all these "pros" of using the Internet, I am also at times overwhelmed by it. And I wonder, as my generation of Moms and those that will come after, get older, will we be better off because of the WWW? Or will we instead be anxious, strung-out, nervous wrecks after 2 decades of parenting in the age of the Internet?

Only via the instantaneous and easily accessible interconnected web that is the net can one on a daily basis be bombarded with proof that they're not doing this parenting thing "right." On any given day, as a direct result of something I read on-line I may wonder, am I giving Ryan enough whole grains? Should I not be feeding him grains at all? Am I slowly killing him because we don't buy organic produce, much less, grow it in our backyard? Does he drink enough milk (which is organic by the way) or too much? Can he have a munchkin at Dunkin Donuts, or is that slowly killing him. too? Is it our fault he was a terrible sleeper as a baby? Can we actually take any credit for the fact that he sleeps like a champ now? Should he be enrolled in pre-school at the age of two, or can we safely hold off until he is three, and not risk his chances of getting into Boston College? (We certainly wouldn't want him  to have to settle for some sub-par University located in South Bend Indiana! ;) Are we sacrificing his potential musical ability by not yet enrolling him in music classes?

Fortunately, I am able to keep a pretty level head about most of these things and feel confident in the decisions that Matt and I make based on what we believe is best for Ryan and for our family. I am grateful that we have an extremely down-to-earth pediatrician who supports our decisions and constantly reminds us that we are extremely reasonable parents and we make excellent decisions. And on most days I don't stress too much about these things. And usually I am more grateful for the "pros" of the web than I am stressed by the "cons." But I can say with certainty that I worry about the above list of "issues" a LOT more than I would if I did not have the wealth of information at my finger tips that the Internet provides.

So, what do you think? Are we raising healthier, happier kids because of the Internet? Or are we as Moms and Dads so stressed out by everything we read that our stress will eventually rub off on our children and they will in turn end up on a psychologists couch at the age of 19 because of all the "googling" we did??

1 comment:

  1. The internet can be your best friend or you worst enemy. All my friends thought that I would be the type of parent that would read all the info I could possibly get my hands on about development, nutrition, and anything else concerning parenting. But, after having a child like Jaclyn, I had to throw all that out the window and do what I thought was best for her. I can't google "HLHS kid who has had a stroke" and find a case like Jaclyn. Each child is unique and Jaclyn has forced me to trust my gut instinct. I've kept the same philosophy with Kinsey and so far so good. Am I the perfect parent? Not even on my best day! Are my kids perfect? Nope, just ask people at Target when they're fighting over who gets to sit in the cart and you can hear their screams ten aisle over. But, we manage and I hope when they're sitting on a psychologists couch as adults they can look back and say that their mom tried her best.


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