Twenty years ago, parents bought home computers and had just been introduced to more accessible cell phones. Look to 2010, and tablets have entered the market. The more pervasive technology becomes, the more impact it has on the daily lives of parents. Nielsen reports that 24 percent of Millennials list technology use as the top reason that makes this generation unique, but this could have even further effects on this generation’s children.
Ball Bearings met with a Millennial couple to discuss raising a child in a world where everyone is exposed to technology. Djivon Moore, 20, a student at Ivy Tech, and Shaylin Overway, 21, a junior majoring in psychology online have a 6-month-old daughter named Charli. Both were students at Ball State last year and changed their schedules to spend more time with Charli.
Grabbing at everything she sees, Charli giggles and coos with a big toothless smile. She loves sitting in her walker and listening to hip hop and R&B because of how upbeat it is, her parents said. When Djivon is working, Shaylin and Charli listen to Katy Perry. The moment Katy Perry’s name is mentioned, Charli’s face lights up.
Music plays a big part in the family’s life. Charli was born into the world with music. From the moment Shaylin went into labor, to Charli’s first night of sleep, Nirvana played in the background. The inescapability of music, and the ease that we can access millions of songs from a five-inch display in our hands, are just more examples of how the Digital Age has brought with it many new gadgets that nascent parents and children alike take with them into the world.
Ball Bearings asks Djivon Moore and Shaylin Overway how technology has played a role in the way they parent.
Ball Bearings: Technology has become so accessible; if you think there is an impact, how do you think that will be with raising Charli?
Moore: We have talked about that before, because before she was born, even today, we are those people who like to look up papers and articles about random thoughts and questions. During the pregnancy, we were talking about how early we should let [Charli] play with iPads and the age is two or three years old when they should do that. Technology is such free access and comes in everyday life now and her not touching an iPad until she is two or three years old is kind of impossible. How it has impacted her, we think it is definitely going to be in her everyday life. By the time she is four, she is going to know how to use a computer as well as an 18-year-old.
Overway: We definitely want our use with technology to help her.
Moore: It is one of those things you want to utilize instead of being that person that does not accept change.
Overway: If you moderate her use of it, technology can help. If you do it in the right way, it can definitely help.
Moore: Instead of letting the Playstation babysit your child, interact with it.
BB: What do you mean when you say this?
Moore: If she got into videogames, we want [Charli] to see it is a pastime and not a thing to miss school over. I don’t want her to miss school and stay up all night addicted to it. She does need that structure of what she can and cannot do.
Overway: We want her to go outside and actually enjoy life.
BB: You mention reading articles. Anything you guys did not know about becoming parents that you do know through technology?
Overway: When I was pregnant, I was on my phone all the time. I would look up when can I lay on my stomach, when can I not. I learned a lot. Things people would tell me, I already knew because I looked it up.
Moore: A lot of things people told us, we would figure out were myths.
Overway: Even when Charli was born, I would look stuff up because a lot of parents don’t allow their children to eat food until they are six months old but she started eating food when she was four months old because every baby is different and it comes down to how fast they develop. Going online and looking at different reviews and articles helped me make sound decisions on what I do with Charli.
Overway: When I was preparing to go into labor, I was having these pains in my stomach and felt like I had to go to the bathroom but I couldn’t. I had no idea what was going on, I just thought that I’m pregnant, I’m in pain and have weird feelings. I went online and looked up [why I was in pain] because I was a week away from my due date. I read of bunch of women’s articles over what their contractions were like so I found out through the Internet I was going into labor because I did not know what contractions were like. The doctor said you’re going to have a little discomfort in your stomach. It was not just discomfort, it was pain.
BB: What were some of the myths you heard?
Moore: Our parents told us, if the belly sits low, it is a boy. If your belly sits high, it’s a girl. I was told that and while Shaylin was pregnant, everyone was excited including me. Then, Charli comes out as a little girl and I was like what the hell?
Overway: Another, when babies are in the womb, three months in development, they can taste the food that you eat. I did not know that, but I found that out.
Moore: [Babies] start developing their personality around six months.
BB: You have had Charli for about six months now, if you guys had another young Millennial couple tell you they were pregnant, what advice would you give them about the baby and about the easy access of technology?
Moore: Advice for technology is don’t get afraid of it. It is so abundant because it is supposed to be a stepping stone, supposed to make everyday life easier to handle. Don’t be afraid of it, but don’t overdo it.
Overway: Go with your gut instinct. If you feel like your child is ready to watch a TV show every once in awhile, go with it. A parent’s intuition is pretty strong. If you feel like your child being involved with technology is too much, don’t do it. If you are ready and your child is, go ahead.
Moore: Don’t let your parents parent you on how to parent. We were talking about letting her play with our phones to our parents and they kinda flipped out at first. You are now the responsible one; if you’re not fully grown out of your parents authority, now is definitely the time to do it. Decisions on technology might be simple, but this child’s life is in your hands and you make these decisions.
For the upcoming semester, Djivon is going to take off from classes to watch Charli while Shaylin will go back to classes at Ball State. Shaylin said that whenever they use technology with Charli, the make sure to make it about interaction, not allowing technology to babysit their kid.
Ball Bearings has edited down content for clarity.