Reflecting on Parenting/Internet/Kids

with co-editors Fiona Joy Green and Jaqueline McLeod Rogers

How did the collection come to be? For over a decade, we have been thinking about the complex relationship between blogging and parenting: how it’s a boon for information sharing, yet how it is easily abused by oversharing. From this angle we were interested in the responsibilities of mothers and parents towards their children. Yet what nagged at us as we took this approach, is that it seemed to verge on “mommy blaming” and heaping  all accountability on already beleaguered parents. We wondered what kids were doing and saying and we wondered about the range of technologies that were influencing family home life. We didn’t want another book telling mothers how to do more work. 

Parenting/Internet/Kids is meant to be a bit on the light side as a title. It plays with the idea that adults manage both our children and technologies. Yet, the slashes indicate not so much clear separation amongst the three categories as allowing for the possibility of connection. We’re all in this together. We asked potential contributors to propose topics exploring the role of computers and technology in their homes and their understandings of how computers have made their way into family values. To our delight, we heard from some fathers as well as mothers, and we heard from parents around the globe: some from Canada and the USA, and also from Australia, India, Japan and Sweden. Some of the articles follow traditional academic models, while others are more experience based and creative. 

What does the collection entail? Our introduction summarizes the chapters in the four sections: 1) Moms on Media: Stage and Screen; 2) Kids on Media: Windows and Doors; 3) Enabling: Digital/Physical Nexus; and 4) Regulating Domestic Use and Surveillance: Who’s in Charge?

As this breakdown indicates, we were able to spread the focus on parents and on children. While a number of chapters have a critical edge, it’s fair to say that authors in section three who look at medical technologies are prone to emphasize the positive, even miraculous advances. 

Why is it a great read for parents? With COVID, most of us let technology into our homes without too much analysis of the downside. As we make our way toward a new normal, maybe it’s time to exercise discernment and raise questions about what we need, what helps, and what make us vulnerable and overly dependent.  The logic of the book supports the argument that we benefit from medical technologies as we deal with new strains of COVID and developing viral outbreaks such as Monkey Pox.  At the same time it argues, using many examples, that we need to be careful and considerate, thinking about limitations rather than carte blanch adoptions. 

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