Plugged-In Parenting: 5 Ways Technology Has Changed the Way We Parent

Do 7-year-olds really need a tablet for Christmas? Do we really need to spy on the babysitter? Do we really need to consult Dr. Google over every bump, scrape, cough and sneeze?
10/16/2013 12:10pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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Since we live in an age of constantly-emerging technology, it only makes sense that it would spill over into parenting. Below are five ways technology has changed the way we parent.

1. Who needs a pediatrician when you have Dr. Google? I'm not sure when I started consulting Dr. Google for my ailments, but I do know for sure that when I was pregnant, I was in his office at least once a day. Now that I am a parent, I Google EVERYTHING! Gone are the days of calling mom or a been-there-done-that mom for answers. Here are the days of pulling out the smartphone to consult Dr. Google. Admit it. Dr. Google is the new go-to for (free), immediate answers (though not a substitute for professional medical advice).

2. The Tech-Toting Toddler Mafia. I remember my immense disgust when I first learned that it was commonplace for 5-year-olds to have a mobile phone tucked in their backpack for "emergencies." I mean really? A 5-year-old needs a phone? Now, nearly three years since first hearing of this trend... I get it. In fact, I am all for it! Why not? If my son goes to a friend's house and needs me, I say, by all means, son, get that emergency phone out of your Thomas The Tank Engine backpack and call mommy. You know, the number I set for you on speed dial. I know, God forbid he asks to use the phone. I also like the fact that I can use GPS to always know where his backpack is. Admit it, if someone said, "Hey, here is a free phone for your kid," you would snatch that sh*t right up.

3. Who needs a human nanny when you can have an electronic one? To a parent, "tablet" translates to "electronic nanny." Every major tablet manufacturer is cashing in on this, making child-friendly tablets to keep your kids entertained. No question about it, eBooks, games and live streaming TV shows are quiet time-wasters that parents praise the tablet for providing every day. As one of those parents, I say, "Amen to apps!"

4. You mean they used to make books out of paper? As a parenting blogger, I get numerous request a day to review one children's eBook or another. Children's eBooks are all the rage now. Finally(!) a book that a touchy toddler cannot destroy before you even get it out of the store. And don't even get me started on the space saved from not having piles of books lying around soaking in chocolate milk and conspicuously concealing crusts and veggies.

5. Don't look now, but Big Mother is watching. One of my favorite baby gadgets is the video monitor. As a first-time parent, being able to watch my newborn while he slept from the comfort of my own bed was a godsend. I still use his monitor at night and to watch him while he plays in his room while I prepare meals. Recently, my husband and I have even been toying with the idea of getting a full house surveillance system so when we are away, we can still watch the mice play. Imagine watching the babysitter while having a date night. This is completely normal. From hidden surveillance teddy bears to the complete home surveillance system, more and more parents are monitoring their child's every move from their smartphone. I am still undecided on how much I really want to see. I am just thankful that this was not going on while I was a babysitter. The Nanny Cam would have put me out of business -- I never would have had the balls to raid the refrigerator while talking to my girlfriends on the phone the entire night.

Is it really necessary for 5-year-olds to have mobile phones? Do 7-year-olds really need a tablet for Christmas? Do 10-year-olds really need the newest version of a gaming console they already have? Do we really need to spy on the babysitter? Do we really need to consult Dr. Google over every bump, scrape, cough and sneeze? Of course we do! I am 100% for 'Plugged-In Parenting.'

However, I am not for lazy plugged-in parenting. It is crucial that parents keep those security settings high and monitor what games are being played and what sites being visited. NEVER give out your password. You need to always know when something is being downloaded. We live in an age driven by technology, get on the bus or get left behind. Just make sure your children are always on the safe bus...