Modern Day Parenting & Drowning in a Digital World

Text & Email & APPS, OH MY! Had Dorothy been a parent and had known the digital information overload and requirements of modern day parents these days, would she have walked the yellow brick road knowing the demands? Technology. It’s a blessing and a curse. While it is so nice being informed, there is a thing as being too informed with too many modern day parenting demands trying to keep up.

Do I feel overwhelmed because I have to keep up and track all of the information related to five children or do all parents feel that there is just too much!? When will all of this information be streamlined into ONE APP versus 50!? GroupMe. Seesaw. CampusParent. InfiniteCampus. TeamApp. RemindMe. TeamSnap. Twitter. Life360. Dojo. Weebly. Shutterfly. WhatsApp. Venmo. PayPal. SignUpGenius. IReady. IRead. The list goes on…My phone is blowing up with all the APPS currently on it related to my children’s schools, sports, and activities. Some are required. Others are optional, yet helpful like Life360 where a parent can track the location of their child, as well as how fast they are driving their car. The list of APPS required by parents to communicate with their children’s teachers, coaches, and activity leaders is endless.

My family and I were able to take a much needed breather from the demands of work, school, and mental exhaustion from ‘information overload’ over the holidays. It was beyond nice to catch a break; to not feel the pressure of fielding through the fire of endless texts, emails, and notifications. It’s non-stop and takes a mental toll on everyone. It’s a full time job keeping up with all of the things, yet I know no matter the number, other parents are feeling the same mental exhaustion from technological/information overload related to their kids’ lives. I always feel I have to be ‘ON’, because let’s face it, if I am not, then my children bear the brunt of not knowing what is expected of them, or what they need to bring to class.

Susie has red, white and blue day on Wednesday; Johnny must bring purple snacks on Fridays & Molly must only come to school at 11:15 because of a late start, but her siblings in the same district must come at regular time. Then there is early release. Oh, and don’t forget to turn in these 10 forms and liability waivers and have them all notarized, sealed, laminated and scanned into said APP. Don’t forget to sign up to donate or volunteer whatever time or resources or energy you might have left! I exaggerate, yet keeping up with the allll the things puts parents in a state of treading water, or drowning. I’m lucky if my kids make it to school with matching socks most days. 

I can’t help but think back to the 70s when my parents were raising four children. They didn’t have cell phones. They didn’t own a computer. Their world was less complicated without technology. They didn’t know where their child was a majority of the day without cell phones or Life360. They met with their children’s teachers at best, 1x a year unless there was a problem at school. Information was disseminated via paper flyers sent home in a backpack or word of mouth through parenting circles. There was no parental expectation needing to be on technology constantly. Information presented to parents had a simple beginning and an end. Not a constant. They didn’t have the demands modern day parents do now. Feeling the need to check their email, text, and sign into a zillion APPS. What’s my password again? It is no wonder today’s parents feel frazzled and stressed out.

As my children get older, I forward emails and texts on to them. I expect them to know what is expected of them. I expect them to develop a sense of autonomy and independence. I need them to know how to disseminate the information and requirements expected of them. It is my job to raise them to be kind humans, who know how to communicate without using only technology. The good old fashioned phone call or handwritten note or face to face meeting is becoming extinct for this next generation. Sad, but true on some levels. 

The technological expectations/demands of parenting my first children to my last has been drastically different (in a more complex way), as technology continues to advance and more teachers, coaches, and activity leaders are relaying heavily on digital outlets to disseminate information. As I navigate through this digital world with my kids, I hope we learn to simplify again. I hope we create boundaries and relearn a way of communicating that doesn’t feel so complex. I remember being a kid watching the Jetsons and their high tech ‘face-time’ scenes. I used to think, how cool would that be? Then, it became a reality and now as a middle-aged adult, I’m wondering if it isn’t that cool.

Yet, as I sit on this computer, utilizing technology to communicate this sentiment, I realize the conundrum. I utilize technology in so many beneficial ways in my work, home, and social life every day. Perhaps balance, moderation and streamlining is the key. For all of us. Parents, teachers, coaches, leaders. Setting limits and staying connected without being overly-connected. When do we say, too much is just too much? When do we set a boundary and limit on how many emails or how many texts or how many APPS related to our children are just too much? And must we examine how we are in fact losing more information by sending too much? Requiring too much? Allowing too much?

We need to get back to the good old fashioned basics. Call me old. Call me old fashioned, I do not care…

I need a NAP from the APP. It’s true. Now excuse me while I go delete 28 voicemails, 455 emails, 30 texts messages, and check all of my notifications.

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Tara lives in the Atlanta area with her husband & 5 children. She is a PT LCSW family/ child clinical therapist in private practice with an MSW from Columbia University in NYC. She spends her summer days on Lake Lanier relaxing with her tribe. Tara believes in miracles big and small, including finishing larger than life piles of laundry and daydreaming of ways to clone her Mama-self, while shuttling her army of children around town. It takes a village...OH, and coffee. Lots of it!