Parenting has undergone significant transformations over the past four decades, and with societal changes come a whole new set of modern parenting concerns that were unheard of 40 years ago.
A lot has changed over the past 40 years, and one of the biggest changes is the advancement of technology. The internet is a fantastic tool, but one concern it has brought about for parents and children is cyberbullying. Whereas previously bullying was an issue resigned to the classroom or playground, and somewhat escapable at home, now children could be facing bullying anywhere and everywhere. Whether through online gaming or social media, cyberbully affects around 37% of children between the ages of 12 and 17 and can have devastating consequences.
The Pressures of Social Media
Peer pressure has long been recognized as a common issue that children face, but in this day and age there are other types of pressure that parents have to look out for. Social media has been shown to negatively affect teenagers in particular, with social isolation and constant comparisons to others being major factors in the development of anxiety, low self esteem and depression.
Alongside the bullies being kept out of the home, child predators used to remain an outside threat too, until now. Another devastating realization that parents have had to come to terms with throughout the age of technology is that predators can find, access and groom children online. Safety measures can be put in place, but it is becoming more difficult for parents to know how to keep their children safe without taking away their technological independence.
Real Life Predators
In the 1980’s, child predators were a known threat to children, but the extent to which child abuse occurs and by whom was still relatively unknown. With child abuse claims from the ‘70s and ‘80s being investigated and beloved childhood television personalities being outed as predators, people we previously thought were trustworthy are not always to be trusted. Parents are therefore much more vigilant now than ever before.
Inappropriate Online Media
Since the dawn of the internet there has been inappropriate materials on the internet. Now, nearly 40 years since the invention of the internet, every household has at least one if not multiple devices and kids are often exposed to unsafe material. With an estimated 1.12 billion websites on the internet currently, it is impossible to know what children can access and how. Even with safety measures and parental security, the sheer amount of material online makes it nearly impossible to vet everything to ensure that children do not access content that could be harmful to them.
Vaping and E-cigarettes
There has been a huge boom in vaping products in the past 20 years, with vape shops opening and a variety of flavors being readily available on the high street. Of course it is illegal to sell E-cigarettes and vapes to anyone in the UK under the age of 18, but studies have shown that around 9% of 11-15 year olds and 18% of 15 year-olds vape. Concerns for parents include nicotine consumption, respiratory diseases, burns from the explosion of devices.
Reliance on Technology
Technology can be useful in day to day life, especially at times when we need to work or study and we cannot get somewhere physically, such as during the pandemic. However, the over-reliance on technology has been a growing concern over the years, from gaming addictions to children spending all day, every day on their phones or tablets. Rather than imaginative play or outdoor activities, many children and teens are becoming fixated on shows, conversations, videos and the endless amount of content available online.
Food and Health
Although the health of children and the food that they ate was a parental concern 40 years ago, there is information everywhere on what you should and shouldn’t be feeding your children. Alongside the boom of fast food and the rise of a more sedentary life thanks to modern technology, health became a much greater concern which needed to be monitored and has led to a lot of parent-on-parent judgement if you are not seen to be feeding your children the ‘right’ things.
Mental Health and Neurodivergence
On a more positive note again, rather than new problems arising which children might be confronted with, this is another concern which has been brought about through an increase in knowledge and research. Many children struggling with mental health issues in the past were misunderstood, and although they tried, many parents didn’t take children’s mental health struggles seriously. Today, awareness around childhood and adolescent anxiety, depression and eating disorders as well as neurodivergent disorders is much more prevalent as are the support systems for these issues.
Car safety has undergone significant changes since the 1980s, particularly in the United States. It wasn’t until 2002 that all 50 states implemented laws requiring age-appropriate child car seats, meaning car safety for children was a different concern in earlier decades. Additionally, seat belt usage became mandatory in the 1980s, leading to substantial improvements in car safety protocols for individuals of all ages since then.
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