From where? From a 12-month intensive training programme known as “maternity leave”. It covered leadership, negotiation, resilience, delegation, risk management, prioritisation and quite a bit of sleep deprivation. It was WILD.
So here I am, with my new identity and perspective, back to the wonderful world of technology, media and law. But even with all my experience working in tech and media, surrounded by leading minds in the industry, it’s really struck me how little I was prepared for parenting in the digital age.
Honestly - I thought I’d have more time, I thought there would be more rules by now – but suddenly there I was with a baby and an iPhone wondering where to from here.
Some parents lean all the way in - creating social media accounts dedicated to intricate baby play setups, solid food strategies and promoting speech development. These accounts have been a goldmine of ideas and support, and some are loaded with partnership deals and merch. Others, concerned about permanent digital footprints and strangers knowing too much about their kids' lives, completely conceal their kids’ faces and identities online – and I also really admire that restraint.
So where did I land? Probably in the worst of both worlds – showing off my son on social media (for no free products or fame) – and feeling increasingly unsure about it.
Determined to be better equipped the next time a big decision rolls around, I find myself looking out to Gen Z (and their pioneering parents) to understand how to play this game. I wonder how much screen time is “too much”, and how I’m supposed to teach control when I also struggle to turn off devices. I wonder how long I can resist buying my son a phone, and if I’d get away with a Nokia 3315 (or other non-internet enabled phone). Would he miss out on key social interactions if he can’t sit on Fortnite with his friends after school?
I’m also fascinated to hear from others who’ve tackled these questions - and the solutions that they’ve come up with. There are some who want their kids to be as digitally native as possible and encourage coding from a young age, and others who do not let their kids use screens at all – except for a weekly movie night (complete with popcorn, a projector and quality family time). Some tackle the first phone issue by agreeing “contracts” with their kids to keep expectations clear (Parenting Place have a great template here), while others use little phone prisons for an hour every night to force a break from devices.
It all makes sense to me, so it’s hard to “pick a lane” – and if anything, it’s given me some pause to be a bit more mindful about my own screen time and consumption. In saying that, maybe I’m wasting my energy agonising over today’s problems – perhaps my battleground will be the metaverse, self-driving (flying?) cars or some other game changing tech that hasn’t even occurred to us yet.
Either way, I’ll see you in the trenches. And if you’ve found something that works for you and your family – please let me know!