This post is sponsored by P&G’s Thank you, Mom campaign.
Are today’s Dads different from those of our parents’ generations? According to an interesting new parenting survey by P&G Thank You, Mom, 65% of modern day dads say they have a different parenting style than their fathers. While I agree my generation of dads has some differences from our fathers, the thing that separates us the most is that today’s dads have to raise our kids in the age of technology and social media. Our fathers never had to worry about things like Facebook, online predators, or texting while driving. How modern day dads address these challenges is going to go a long way toward defining us as fathers.
P&G’s Thank You, Mom campaign asked modern parents a lot of question related to technology and social media, including one with results that surprised me – “73% of dads say that parents of young children today have a tougher time parenting due to advances in technology and social media.” This surprised me a little because, when it comes to raising young children, I think technology and social media actually make parenting easier. The ability to communicate with other parents throughout the world, to share our experiences and ask for advice, has been tremendously valuable to me as a dad. Despite this, I can definitely see how, as Annie and James get older and begin to use technology and social media, they’re going to make parenting a whole heck of a lot harder.
Monitoring my kids’ online habits is going to be important, and that’s something almost all of today’s dads agree on (nine out of ten according to P&G’s Thank You, Mom campaign). There isn’t a clear consensus among these fathers, though, about how far that monitoring should go. Only 54% believe it should be mandatory for their child to accept their “friend request” online, and just 55% of dads have age restrictions on when their child can create a Facebook account. Personally, I lean toward being strict on both of those questions, and don’t see how so many dads can say that monitoring their kids’ online habits is important but think that it’s okay for their kids not to accept their friend requests. Are these dads trying to respect their children’s privacy online? If that’s the explanation, I don’t agree. Kids (and especially teenagers) don’t want their parents in their business, but it’s a parent’s responsibility to stay on top of their kids’ online activities no matter how much their kids don’t like it. Dads have the right to call their kids’ teachers to keep tabs on their school life, and they should have the right to keep tabs on their kids’ online lives, too.
The lack of consensus on these questions shows just how new these issues are. In another generation it will undoubtedly be much clearer how we should deal with technology and social media, but unfortunately our generation has to find these things out for ourselves. The good news is that, though social media/technology is creating these challenges, it’s also empowering us to commiserate with other dads and moms from around the world so we can find ways to deal with them.
Check out some other interesting results from P&G’s Thank You, Mom campaign:
How do you or the modern day dad in your life deal with technology/social media and your kids?
I will admit, it makes me a little batty when I see friends have allowed their children to have their own facebook accounts prior to the child’s 13th birthday. Right off the back you’re telling your child that they don’t need to follow ALL of the safety rules online. Facebook has a TOU that states you must be 13 in order to have an account.
However, my approach to the whole friend request thing is different. I would never want my children to be on my “friends” list. I’m not their friend, my husband is not their friend. We are their parents. We plan to have the log in information and passwords for all online accounts. If we feel there is a reason to check, we have that right.
Our biggest battle has been explaining now, at this age (9 and 11) that the pictures and words you put online are there forever and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Thankfully, my husband worked at his University paper back in 1999 and we were able to show them that all of his work still exists online 14 years later. I’m sure to ask them permission to post photos of them on facebook/online so that they walk in to the TOU age for most sites with their eyes wide open, well aware of the consequences of posting embarrassing (please God, never let them have life altering/career threatening pictures) photos of their friends, family and selves.
Laptops stay on the main floor and we have a net nanny type software on each of their laptops. That’s more for their protection thn anything else. Predators are savvy, that’s what makes them successful in their online hunt. We haven’t told them about the software and thankfully on the occasions we’ve have to check it, there’s been nothing of any concern.
Finally, we have a lot of open communication. I want them to know that if they come to me with a problem, I’m not going to freak out. This has been a rule since the toddler years. Discipline is about consequence, not punishment. My kids haven’t been grounded save for one instance of lying. They do something wrong, they have to fix it. Yelling or grounding just makes it harder for them to admit their mistakes. I want them to know that we’re here to help them, no matter what has happened. I truly hope that sets up a foundation of trust and keeps those lines of honesty open now that we’re hitting the teen years.
Whew. That was a mouthful.
I’m in IT and therefore, a gadget geek. I wasn’t thrilled when my son’s father & stepmother gave him an unrestricted cell phone at age 12. (FWIW, it was all about convenience for THEM, not for him.) He and I built his first computer together when he was 9 and he had a dial up ISP account that I paid for. At my house, he used my computer with supervision. At dad’s house, well, I wasn’t so confident.
Now for the funny… I DID install “Net Nanny” software on his computer for his own protection. I got a weekly report emailed to me with the sites he had visited and his “online time”. I started seeing strange hours on the report and called his not-technical father to discuss it. His father exclaimed, proudly, “I don’t know what the fuss is about. I couldn’t find any porn up there on that innernet thingy.”
I quietly agreed with his assessment of the “safe” internet, not the one on the news all the time. I never did tell him that I could monitor the usage and block sites from afar.
See also: How to make your ex-husband look like an even bigger idiot than you could ever describe – in front of a judge, aghast attorneys and the peanut gallery in a courtroom. He took me back to court for contempt over the computer issue once he realized that he’d been duped. There was nothing to talk about – I built a computer for my young son so he could do research for school papers. Knowing the inherent dangers of unrestricted internet access, I restricted it. End of story. He was ordered to pay all court costs, attorney fees, my lost day of wages, parking and whatever else the judge could come up with, along with a stern lecture about abusing the court system with frivolity.
Wow, 62% have age restrictions on cell phones, but only 55% have age restrictions on social media? Crazy… I’m not a dad & my kids dad is not in the picture, however, even if he was, there are restrictions on everything. My oldest is 11 & most of her friends have cells & FB pages. Not happening in my house. I’m glad to read that you plan to have limits. Keep up the great work!
I agree with the comment that passwords are needed. Tech savvy kids can make sure you don’t see what they don’t want you to see if you are a “friend.”
I do agree with making my kids “friend me” on fb, and I check their feed every once and while. We have countless dinner conversations about what it’s safe to post for posterity, or how online predators target kids. We always discuss cases of minors being prosecuted for stupid things they’ve sent or posted. But I don’t agree that I have a right to their passwords for all devices. Or a right to randomly search and seize the cellphone. (Being suspicious of illegal activity like drug use is another matter.) My son paid for his himself, and continues to pay for his service each month. Kids do need space away from parents. Besides, socializing online to me is a less dangerous pursuit than many others my kids could get into if they couldn’t as easily stay in touch with friends and were away from home more often.
My husband is anti-social media, and we both work in the computer business (I develop software; he works on IT and hardware stuff). Our kids are too young to set computer rules (aside from “No! Don’t touch Mommy’s laptop!”), but we both are so overly cautious online that I can’t imagine not having a lot of rules around technology.
My eldest niece was allowed a FB page at the age of 9 or 10…which I didn’t agree with but I was not her custodial guardian. I think she has been grounded from it for about 1 1/2 to 2 years now (she turns 13 this summer)! LOL
The rules with her was that not only did she have to have me set her privacy filters to friends only (I was the only family member who knew how to do so! LOL) but she had to keep as friends her custodial father & grandmother and myself and we had to have her password. And if her father, grandmother, or I disagreed with a post we’d discuss via phone or PM on FB and (inevitably) it would be removed.
[The oddity about this situation is we live in different states and I am not technically related to her–her mother’s sister married my brother and she lives with her father & his mother.–but it’s all about good family relations!] She also had to accept friend requests from her other grandmas & aunties.
Truth be told, she often hacks her Mimi’s FB page, but she is honest about doing so & only does it to share positive things about either her Mimi or herself and these hacks have been approved…over keeping her own page open.
As for my other nieces and nephews: they are all 10 & under and none are allowed on FB or allowed on computers without supervision. And TV/media is closely supervised and limited. At my house they have a collection of both new & classic Disney movies (but typically those w/out the deaths of parents or super scary parts). Belonging to the Disney DVD club helps!
Anyway as they age, I’m sure their parents will institute more parental controls as needed.
I know had my eldest niece continued to return to spend summers with us she would have found our computer password controlled–and our TV with strict parental controls and specific channels or programs banned altogether. And time would have been limited–not spending all day watching TV, movies, or Facebooking.
And I totally believe in being able to check kids cell phone friends, calls, messages & texts…on occasion.
Good for you (and your sponsor) for bringing up this topic!!