How to Parent the ‘Text Generation’

There's a right way and wrong way to do it

Parenting today is very different from when our parents were parenting us. Today, your kids are part of the “text generation.” We grew up talking to our friends. Your kids are growing up texting with their friends. Or worse, they’re communicating over Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook.

Regardless, the parenting landscape has changed — and this can feel overwhelming.

I recently interviewed psychologist and technology expert Dr. Josh Straub for my “Parenting Great Kids” podcast. In his research, he’s discovered that technology is making our kids less empathetic, more shallow — and it’s shortening their attention spans. He elaborated on some of his findings in a fascinating blog post, “Why Mister Rogers Is Smarter Than Baby Einstein.”

And it’s not just the older kids at risk. Recent studies have revealed that kids younger than age five spend an average of 40 percent of their waking hours each day in front of a screen. Forty percent! If not monitored correctly, social media and electronics could have a lasting and devastating effect on your kid. I don’t say this to scare you — I say this to warn you and wake you up to a potential problem. Parents shouldn’t fear technology; we simply need to know what our kids are up against and how to respond.

[lz_related_box id=211305]

Really, I think there’s hope for the text generation, and that hope is you. You have the power to successfully navigate your family through the complexities and uncertainties of technology.

Do you think Donald Trump will be indicted?

By completing the poll, you agree to receive emails from LifeZette, occasional offers from our partners and that you've read and agree to our privacy policy and legal statement.

Here are three tips for surviving, and thriving, in the text generation:

1.) Don’t be afraid to take charge.
Electronics came into our lives fast and furious. Laptops, cellphones, iPads — how to manage a child’s use of them can feel overwhelming for parents. But no matter how overwhelmed or scared you feel, remember: You are in control of your child’s electronics; they are not in control of you. Parent from that place of confidence rather than from a place of fear. You are in control of your child’s electronics; they are not in control of you.

2.) Set rules for the family.
It’s unrealistic to get rid of all electronics, but it’s important to set family rules about when and how they are used and when they are not.

My husband and I did this when we were raising our kids. We turned off the TV at the beginning of summer and kept it off for the entire months of June, July, and August. I’ll be honest, the first two weeks of summer were miserable. We were so used to noise and distraction that we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. But eventually, our kids got used to it. They began inviting friends over, we spent more time together as a family, and by the time September rolled around, they didn’t even want to turn the TV back on.

Related: E-Parenting in 2016: It’s Doomed

Restricting electronics is like going on a healthy diet. Once you get used to the healthy food, you don’t want the junk food. Consider putting your kids on an electronics diet and see the miracles that happen.

3.) Abide by the rules yourself.
The No. 1 rule in establishing family boundaries with screen time is that parents have to lead. This is so important. Whatever rules you set for your kids, you have to follow them, too. We, as parents, are also addicted to our screens and phones — so this can be hard. But our kids will only learn if we lead by example. Show your kids what it looks like to use electronics and technology responsibly, carefully, and respectfully.

Parents, don’t be intimated by the text generation. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it must be harnessed and used with healthy boundaries for your family. Remember, you are still in charge of the electronics. They are not in charge of you.

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for 30 years. She is the author of the online course, “The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids,” which is part of The Strong Parent Project.

meet the author

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the book “Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need” (Regnery Publishing), along with a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.

Join the Discussion

Comments are currently closed.