Being Present in the Digital Age


Parenting in the Digital Age is a completely unique experience to parenting in previous generations. I suppose that is true of each new generation of parents — we experience new challenges and an ever-changing environment that continues to drift further from the childhood we remember. But with the advances in technology and social media, I wonder if the constant compulsion to be "plugged in" has changed how we parent for better or worse?

As a Millennial Mama, I'm all for technology. I love the feeling of connectedness, and the "we're all in this together" attitude that is increasing here in the mom blogosphere. I have formed real and lasting bonds with mothers I've never met, because we have this amazing ability to link our lives through social media. I have created a living doing what I love through the use of technology. We have so much power and knowledge at our fingertips in the digital world, and technology has such tremendous potential for good.

But despite the advantages, technology also has the potential to become a crippling source of unhappiness and insecurity if we allow it too much reign in our lives. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing your real and messy life to the highlight reels of edited photos and choice phrases that pop up in your social media feed. It is all too easy to feel uncertain of your parenting choices when you hear the clamor of other mothers on the Internet preaching that their way is the best. It's all too easy to take to the Internet and make a bad day worse by falling down the rabbit hole.

While I ultimately believe that we have the choice to make technology work for or against us, I think there's a lot to be said for simply stepping away when you can.

For stepping away when you should.

Because the digital world, for all its wonder, is not a replacement or even a good supplement for being present in your own life.

We need to give ourselves space from that constant noise to be able to hear our own voice. We need to shift our focus away from all the articles we read on the Internet and the highlight reels we see on social media of other people's lives, so we can gain some insight into our own lives and our own feelings.

But beyond that, we need to unplug because it's the only way to be wholly available, physically and emotionally. All the parenting articles the Internet has to offer won't make me a better mother. All the relationship advice in the world won't make me a better wife. The only way to improve my life is to be present for it — to step away from the screens, remove myself from the cyber world, and live for what's right in front of me.

Read more from Gemma at Journey of Love.


Gemma Hartley

Gemma Hartley is a freelance writer and founder of Journey of Love, a personal blog where she shares her journey as a mother, wife, writer, young woman and more. She is a regular contributor to Reno Moms Blog and her writing has also appeared on MindBodyGreen, Mamamia and Role/Reboot. She lives in Reno, NV with her husband, two kids, an awesome dog and a terrible cat.