Tech & Media
Raising My Kid In The Information Age Leaves Me Overwhelmed And Worried
By Laura Mullin
PHOTO © JLR/Twenty20
Aug 29, 2019
In one week, I read online that life on the planet will cease in 30 years, that soon there will be more plastic water bottles in the ocean than fish and that kids today may not live as long as the previous generations.
While I’m grateful for the access to so much information, sometimes it just makes this mom want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over her head.
When I first became pregnant after years of trying, I was thrilled to have access to the internet to read up on all things pregnancy. I quickly joined a group of other newly knocked-up ladies who were due the same month. We formed a tightly knit but virtual mama-to-be club. Handles like babemoma4ever, mom2b75 and babeontheway86 became my village.
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I bonded with these women who had also struggled with infertility. Together, we freely shared our hopes and fears, knowing we’d never meet IRL. This online kinship kept me educated and informed, and helped me feel less alone as I reached each new stage of my hard-won pregnancy.
And then — when we were all eight months along — one of the women lost her baby.
The challenge for me is getting the best out of information abundance while protecting myself and my family from the worst.
Her placenta separated from her womb causing the worst imaginable outcome. Suddenly, this online oasis became a painful and stark reminder of all the terrible things that could go wrong. I retreated.
My relationship as a parent with the internet has been complicated ever since. When my daughter was a baby, I, like many new parents, Googled everything I could think of to make sure she was meeting all of her developmental milestones. I felt lucky to live in a time when this kind of information was only a few clicks away. I also endured the panic of imagining every affliction Dr. Google could diagnose.
Now I’m the mom of a preteen girl and this age of information keeps me all too aware of the dangers lurking in the world for kids: online bullying, the rise in opioids, strangers prowling, conspiracy theories, extremism. But it isn’t just impacting parents.
One night, my kid was anxious. After a little mom-prodding, she confessed to me that she thought the world was going to end — that night. Even though she knew it sounded silly, she was worried.
When I asked her why she thought that, she said she had read a story circulated online about all the warning signs of impending doom that were coming true. The videos had clearly been targeted towards kids her age. It was a reminder that young people are also being bombarded with an overload of frightening information. It became a teachable moment of discerning between what is true and what is false. That there was a time to turn it all off.
The challenge for me is getting the best out of information abundance while protecting myself and my family from the worst. It takes discipline to not be lured down a disturbing wormhole designed to do nothing more than get your click. But I’m working on it and teaching my daughter to do the same.
And that is perhaps the best information I can share.
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