By Elizabeth Kaheru
Parenting in times when technology determines the way we make decisions in life is both an opportunity and challenge. This requires one to fully understand what parenting truly is.
While speaking at the 24th ICPAU Annual Seminar, Pastor Joshua Mugabi, a Family Pastor at Watoto Church Ministries stated that the digital era is not the problem but rather the approach of parents towards parenting. He stressed that once parents manage themselves and their relationships, then they will easily handle the challenges that digitalization poses.
Research undertaken by UNICEF, on the topic, Children in a Digital World reveals that; worldwide, 71 per cent of children are online, compared with 48% of the total population. Of these, most are between 15-24 years. According to the findings, children and adolescents under 18 account for an estimated 1 in 3 of internet users, worldwide.
Digital technology has its gains. Social media increases interaction and networking, thereby enabling children to stay connect with peers in the global village. Digital technologies also enhance learning by providing fast and easy access to information, with just a click of a button. This notwithstanding, digital technologies have been known to cause devastating harm to children, when misused or inadequately monitored. Some children have fallen victim to cyber bullying and paedophile advances, among other forms of child abuse.
This requires parents to adjust their parenting style, to an authoritative one, while striking a balance and avoiding an authoritarian style. Pr. Mugabi advised parents to aim to remain relevant.
“In the digital era, parents cannot afford to be authoritarian, permissive or neglectful in their parenting style,” said Pr. Mugabi. “Successful parents in the digital era are those who embrace the authoritative parenting style. With this style, parents listen to their children but still retain the authority to make the decisions about their children’s lives.
Pr. Mugabi defined parenting as the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Pastor Mugabi further stated that successful parenting requires knowledge of some fundamental principles.
He said that the first principle is for parents to secure their homes. This means that before couples can become successful parents, they should clearly state their family vision and values. Through this, couples will clearly define the roles and responsibilities of their family members as well establish boundaries of behaviour for each family member including the children they will have in future. Clearly setting values and boundaries will help parents to make strategies about how to address various issues in parenting, which involve the opportunities and challenges that come with the digital age.
Pastor Mugabi also stated that successful parents should realign their priorities to provide their children with both qualitative and quantitative time. This is because they are responsible for the adults their children become. “Successful parents don’t just provide expensive gadgets to their children but take time to be present in their children’s lives,” said Pr. Mugabi. “Successful parenting requires that children are taught to be better each day,” he added. Pr. Mugabi emphasized that this can only be achieved when parents play an active role in their children’s upbringing, through teaching, correcting and training children in the right path.
The 24th Annual Seminar runs from 4-6 September 2019 at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel under the theme, maintaining a sustainable enterprise. The Seminar is sponsored by Uganda Reinsurance Company, Stanbic Bank, Atomic Energy, Umeme Limited, Standard Chartered Bank, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), KPMG, Ernst & Young, National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Bodywise Fitness, Nakasero Blood Bank, Statewide Insurance Company, ICEA Group, Insurance Institute of Uganda, Jubilee Insurance, Liberty Group, Uganda Insurers Association and Pax Insurance.