Discipline and Parenting Children in the Digital Age: The Man Who Shot His Daughter’s Laptop

by Lisa Douglas

Parenting in this day and age is tougher than it’s ever been before for any other generation, especially in this digital age. Digitally speaking, it’s more than the simple decision in allowing a kid a cell phone, or a Facebook account, or even email. There are so many dangers lurking in the online world, not to mention freedoms children suddenly have that they’ve never had before. It’s hard to navigate this ‘new world’ with children, big or small, and even tougher when we’re thrust into it all without the knowledge or know-how on how best to handle it all, especially if we don’t understand it ourselves first.

How are parents supposed to monitor a kid’s social media usage when some parents today aren’t even aware of what each social network does or allows their kids to do to begin with? It isn’t like you suddenly sign-on with a how-to manual, especially when there are updates and changes to the services you might be unaware of. Especially if you’re the casual user. Heck, for some parents, they don’t use social media themselves at all. How then, would they know what their children are up to?

Online safety is fastly becoming a tender hot-spot in parenting today. It isn’t easy parenting our society’s kids today, let alone in this fast-paced informational age, where the computer and handheld device are often a silent third parent in disguise, just as influential, and very addicting. It’s hard to strike a balance between how much is too much and what should and shouldn’t be allowed, isn’t it? And that struggle doesn’t necessarily begin with the digital struggle of having cell phones and laptops in pre-teen or teenage years, either, it begins with our children are quite small.

There is so much more technology for our young ones today, TV shows and handheld games on tablets, it’s often confusing for their little minds to process it all. Couple that with parents being less patient than they once were, with suddenly more to do with less time to do it in, on top of more struggles with both parents working, and busy schedules, etc., our little ones are faced with more screen time than kids used to at their age in previous generations. With parents being so stressed out, and kids often turning to screens for solace, parents may not see what is happening before their very eyes in those moments of periodic screen-induced silence.

It also isn’t all screen-related, either. It’s a matter of discipline, too. It’s about routines and discipline and studying what works and what does not, and time involved in doing so with support systems some parents simply do not have nor time to invest in while they attempt to stay afloat. It. is. tough.

With no support system or anyone to help them, parents will sometimes feel alone, and, as a result, are incapable of knowing how to handle certain situations properly without guidance from others. You don’t get through a grocery store without listening to a child screaming or throwing a temper tantrum, nor can you sit through a restaurant meal without your child wanting to get up. It isn’t necessarily saying you’re a bad parent for these things happening, anymore than it’s your child being a so-called “bad” child when they’re not, either. But these things were uncommon twenty-to-thirty years ago, were they not? Why is it so commonplace now? Because back then, folks believed in the “it takes a village” scenario, where as now, folks get snippy or insulted if strangers attempt to help, immediately feeling their parenting skills being emasculated, as though they can’t handle it themselves. What a conundrum.

Yesterday, I read this amazing Wall Street Journal article by Pamela Druckman about Why French Parents are Superior (to American ones), detailing their very different parenting techniques to those often implemented by our society. Pamela went on to illustrate a few instances in which she observed French children respectfully listening to their parents, eating quietly, playing nicely, and listening to their parents without fuss, without fight. The author also detailed a discussion she had with a French friend about how they parent quite differently, and how important a convincing ‘tone’ is to getting children to listen the first time.

It fostered a discussion I had with my husband last night, how we often find ourselves repeating our commands, much like the author does, getting frustrated with our children’s noncompliance. This discussion was fresh on my mind today to discuss here, in detail, until I came across another fascinating parenting article I found online earlier. An article about a father’s struggle to get his teenage daughter to respect his wishes.

The second article showcases the “hoop-la” created over the NC father’s video he made where he reads aloud a post his daughter had written on Facebook. She had hidden this secret post from her parents, using vulgarities and essentially throwing a teenager-esque temper tantrum; one she would never do face-to-face or in public. By the end of his video, he responds to her post by enforcing his discipline upon her and displaying it for anyone watching – by putting several bullets through her laptop as punishment. No more laptop means no more internet and no more secret vulgar ranting posts.

To continue reading, click through to page 2: (This one was a long one. Heh.)

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