Have the Rules of Parenting Changed in the Digital Age?

Parents in the digital age face unique challenges that no other parents in history have ever faced, and there’s no doubt that it’s a scary task to take on. Today’s children have the Internet, smartphones and tablets, access to information, and global connectivity that was unimaginable a few decades ago. The good news, however, is that while the platform may have changed, the rules of parenting haven’t.


Keeping kids safe in the digital age doesn’t require a whole new set of parenting rules—just a repurposing of what you already know. Modern parenting is still about staying involved, setting a good example, and giving kids the resources they need to figure things out on their own.

As a Littleton area therapist the evolution I’ve seen has been astounding. In only a few years a parents challenge has changed from teaching children to entertain themselves to trying to monitor their use of devices that keep children occupied all the time. Following are a few suggestions that I have…

Protect Kids by Staying Involved

It may seem like an impossible task to keep track of what your kids are doing when they’re spending all that time in front of the computer or on their smartphones. But it’s actually not all that different from keeping track of them when they leave the house: you stay involved by asking questions. Just like you ask who they’re out with and where they’re going, you can similarly ask them from time to time about:

  • What sites they frequent
  • What kinds of apps and games they’re playing, and how they work (if you don’t know)
  • Who their online friends are and who they talk to
  • Which people and sites they follow

Whether it’s going to soccer games, seeing school plays, or keeping apprised of their online lives, parenting was—and still is—about active participation and unconditional love.

Monitor and Restrict Online Time

When your child wants to eat ice cream for breakfast, and you say no, this same parenting skill is applicable in the modern world. Again, it’s only the subject matter that’s changed when it comes to the digital world: the same way you ensure they eat nutritious food, so too can you make sure they’re only consuming high-quality and appropriate digital content. Being a parent to a digital native means restricting what they do and how much time they spend online, monitoring who they talk to, and teaching them about appropriate online behaviors and content.

Similarly, it’s important to teach kids that they should treat people online the same way they would in person because their online actions have consequences just like real-world actions do.

Understanding and Using Technology Responsibly

Another traditional aspect of parenting that still applies in the digital world is the importance of being a mentor and role model for your children. Kids tend to learn by example, and this holds true for interactions with technology. If you are digitally literate and understand and practice appropriate online behavior, so too will your child.

If you spend all your time texting or checking emails or trolling Facebook, your child will grow up thinking that’s acceptable. If you want to teach your child about limits, restrictions, and appropriate behavior, then you too must practice those same things, and this is true in the real and virtual world.

Technology is now a ubiquitous and unavoidable aspect of life, so more than ever it’s important to make time to spend with family, in person, without the distraction of digital devices. And as long as you make the effort to unplug now and then and encourage your child to do the same, then you can still enjoy technology without letting it rule your lives.

Raising children in the digital world doesn’t have to be a daunting and intimidating process, especially if you remember that all the same rules of parenting still apply.

As an animal assisted therapist I’ve learned that children can still be entertained the old fashioned way. The digital age is no different from any other age, save the devices and connectivity. Interaction and engagement with others is just as vital now as it has always been.

Dr. Steven Lazarus is a psychologist in Littleton, Colorado. He specializes in helping children and teens work through divorce.

5 Important Factors to Consider When Moving on From a Divorce

Moving on after the breakup of a long-term relationship with a significant other is very difficult, and it requires a healing and recovery period. Dealing with a divorce can be disorienting, confusing, and lonely, but during this time, it’s important to remember that your primary goal should be letting go and moving on. As sad as it may be to let go of a relationship, it’s a necessary part of the process if you want to lead a healthy and full life in the future.

1. You Will Experience a Full Spectrum of Emotions

Although we may not always think of it as such, a breakup is a loss, and it’s normal to experience a wide array of changing feelings as you come to terms with that loss. After a divorce, you can expect to experience:

  • Denial
  • Frustration and exhaustion
  • Anger and confusion
  • Grief and sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Resentment and relief

It’s important that you give yourself time and permission to mourn and grieve the loss of your relationship, your friend, and the life and dreams you shared together. As with any loss, overcoming grief and pain is a process, and you can’t expect to wake up one morning and have everything be back to normal.

2. Support from Others Is Integral

Just like you sometimes need help carrying in groceries when you have a full carload, you also need emotional support when you’ve got too much on your plate. Talk to your friends, family, and loved ones about how you’re feeling and coping, spend time doing fun things together, and don’t be afraid to get out and meet new friends. If you need a little more help, seek out a support group or talk to a therapist who can help you manage your feelings in a healthy and productive way.

3. Recognize the Difference Between Healthy Sadness and Depression

It’s entirely normal to feel sad and lonely after a breakup, and you can expect to experience changes in your activity level, eating habits, sleep patterns, and moods. What’s not normal, however, is for the grief you feel to persist without getting better. If that’s the case, be on the lookout for other symptoms of depression, which include:

  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness and feeling no hope for the future
  • Inability to feel pleasure from activities you once enjoyed
  • Loss of appetite or binge eating, and weight loss or gain
  • Consistently decreased energy levels
  • Feelings of extreme sadness that affect all aspects of your life

4. Learn How to Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself after a divorce or breakup is no different from caring for yourself when you’re sick. Take some time off work if necessary or lighten your workload if you can, take the time to rest and relax, stay active, eat right, take time to do the things you love, pursue new hobbies and interests, and don’t try to make any important decisions.

5. Use This Opportunity to Learn More About Yourself

The end of a long-term partnership provides an excellent opportunity to get to know yourself again. Give yourself time to be alone and single, and rediscover the person you were before you got into the relationship. This can mean taking up old hobbies, reconnecting with old friends, and taking a look at what makes you the person you are.

One of the best parts of having friends and family is that you can count on them when you need help, so don’t be afraid to reach out during this time. Focus your energy on processing the loss you’ve experienced and coping with the feelings you’re having, and allow yourself to begin a new chapter in your life.

Finding a Littleton area therapist to help throughout the healing process would be one. Remember, divorce affects not only you, but everyone around you. If you can’t cope, the people around you are affected as well. Dr. Lazarus, a divorce psychologist in Littleton offers proven techniques such as animal assisted therapy to help you or your family members through the divorce process.