Technology: Texting, Cell Phones, Computers, and Parenting in the 21st Century

Parenting children of the 21st century is truly an interesting experience for me. Before motherhood and married life, I used to consider myself pretty savvy on technological advancements from the time I was in college and beyond. Little did I expect, however, the changes in technology that have quickly moved beyond my ability to absorb them over this last decade alone.

I gave my daughter her first cell phone when she was 9 years old because I wanted her to have one for emergencies. She has always been very intelligent and really knows how to get around on the computer much faster than I ever could anymore. In fact, she was the one who taught me how to download music for my MP3 player (she was only 8 at the time). However, soon after receiving it from us, she still had not learned to use the text feature of her phone since she wasn’t really allowed to use it for that purpose. Just before her dance lesson one day, she asked me if I could teach her how to text on her cell phone in case she ever needed to do so in an emergency. I proudly took my time showing her how to use the “complicated” text features.

After dropping her off at the dance studio a few minutes later, I decided I would then go to the nearby grocery store for a quick errand. No sooner had I pulled out of the studio’s parking lot, when I received a text message from…guess who? That’s right, my daughter. The text said, “Dance pixs today, bring costume ASAP!” I was shocked and amazed, of course, not because I taught her just in the nick of time, but at the speed with which she absorbed the use of this new technology. She texted instead of calling me, because she knew I would never answer my cell phone while driving. Needless to say, I sped home, picked up the costume and got it back to her just in time for her turn at taking her yearly dance recital photos. If she hadn’t learned to text that day (and to use the feature correctly), she would have missed the opportunity to get photos done that year, as well as to appear in the mandatory group photos with her dance company.

Now she is the one that has had to teach me how to download ring tones on my phone, send voice mails with picture photos attached, and capture and record voices of friends to use as ring tones. She also continues to teach me all of the texting jargon that goes along with this popular technology (yes, we let her text occasionally now). I remember my dad struggling to understand the concept of a computer a couple of decades ago and me having to take my time to explain to him that it wasn’t as scary as he thought. I even took some basic programming courses in college and was proud of myself as I showed my dad and my siblings some of cool stuff I knew how to do back then. “Wow!” they would exclaim with wide-eyed bewilderment . Have I become my dad and my daughter me? How could this have happened?

Yes, parenting and motherhood in the 21st century is definitely an experience, to say the least. It is also an ever-changing crash-course in surviving the technological and information age…from our kids’ perspective.