Friday, November 14, 2014

In the age of digital and democratic parenting

For a long time no blog is churned out from this space. Recently a call to write on topic of digital parenting in Women’s Web – eKavach ‘This Digi-Parenting Life!’ campaign caught my eyes and I wanted to write my experiences about being a digital and democratic parent.
During my pregnancy, internet provided me all the support in a distant country that a mother, aunt or sister provides to an Indian women in India. All the recipes for tasty but nutritious food, different strokes of messages and how to keep that mood swing at bay when your body is playing drum-rolls with hormones.
No wonder after I got my bundle (of joy) in my hand, websites like became my go to places to know all about a new subject of parenting. As a new mom who was also studying for her final degree, I needed support to calm down my daughters from crying, return to home tantrums in the evenings, and dinner time showdowns. Slowly creeped in the world of you tube   and came the little boy called Caillou, the brother and sister's team lola and charlie, a friendly pig called Peppa pig and several other characters. They entered into the daily screen watching ritual of my daughter and my daughter could connect with them almost as if they were her cousins. Also came the nursery rhymes and rhymes in our mother tongue again from you tube. Slowly my daughter started controlling the keyboard and mouse and started selecting her favourites. For being a democratic mom (and sometimes a tired one too) allowed her to have a dedicated screen time which was mostly computers and television. Smart phones were still a future product then. Games from popular website cebeebies became popular in our house too. We started learning numbers, colours, manners from the computer games. Being in academic field my husband and I were using computer all the time and our daughter never got any negative vibe about using computers for her leisure. Till then I had no issue with safe surfing as I used to be there with her or she would spend time surfing through the website only. My only concern was about time she should spend on net.
Now 10 years down the line, she is strongly aware of Google. New gadgets like smartphones and tablets have added to her list of screens. The time denoted to screen views could not be that strictly controlled anymore. Her interests are growing from doodling to rock and pop music to reading harry potter or looking at pottermore. She knows most information are available through proper searches in Google or in youtube. I am not always there with her to supervise her moves online as my work loads have increased too. She gets assignments at school with instruction to do secondary research on internet. There are times when we plan to bake a cake and she quickly run to check a recipe online. Being a digital savvy and democratic mom I am happy that she has learned to utilise a resource that makes her tasks easier. I feel proud when her grandparents ask her to solve their queries related to smartphones and computers. But there is a creepy voice inside me which keep bothering me about her online safety specially when I am not around to check what she is upto on screen. It is important that we discuss with her on regular basis and understand her interests on regular basis. She is still not into social media but pottermore is very close to that. We have given her instructions about not being too open in the internet world, and that it is important to handle internet in secure way but we are still not sure how much she understands the seriousness of it. It is difficult to block unwanted advertisements and visuals from youtube and that concerns me a lot.
I understand as a parent I would need to understand more about the world of secure online presence along with finding ways to teach hindi to my daughter. It is nice to know that there are others who are thinking alike and have come up with the concept of ekavach - to let our children go out their in the world of internet but in a guarded manner.

1 comment:

  1. Stumbled onto your blog from an FB post in Women in Indian Science……enjoyed it greatly…familiar names Peppa Pig…Charlie and Lola…..familiar fears about online security…..nice to know about other women swimming in the same sea :)