Zeners or Generation Z – the preteens and teenagers of today are not quite the same as us when we were of their age. The zeners are living different times and developing different attitudes, mindsets and behaviour. They have different issues in their life. The parenting challenge is also significantly different. In this opinion piece, we ask parents from different parts of the world what is their greatest parenting challenge. The result is extremely interesting. Here, take a look and if you are a parent of Zener, do not hesitate to share your parenting challenge –
GETTING THEM BACK INTO THE REAL WORLD
LIEN KEERTHISINGHE, Founder & CEO of LienKay Design Solutions, Sri Lanka
I think we were more connected with people, may it be our parents, friends or neighbours on a one to one basis. We had a bigger need to be connected to people but nowadays digital connectivity has taken over and the kids just wanna play games and even connect with outer people through social games instead of real people.
How to get the children off the computer games and video back in to the real world but at the same time how to give them enough time as we are also too busy with a zillion things to do.
REDUCING SCREEN TIME
VIRPI TARANTINO, L&D manager, originally from Finland, lives in the UAE with her two daughters Karoliina 9 and Veronika 7.
The key difference between my generation and my daughters’ generation is the amount of technology available. The advantage of this is the ease of access to information. The challenge, on the other hand, the amount of time spent looking at screens, and internet security.
MANAGING DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS
VAIJAYANTEE BHATTACHARYA, Mother, Entrepreneur, Author, Editor and Poetess. Originally from India, currently lives in Kingdom of Bahrain, seen with her son Shurjo.
Kids of this generation are very different from what we were at their age. Blame it on the paradigm shifts or technological advancements, they are far more intelligent and will not buy a single teaching unless they are logically convinced.
I think the biggest challenge in bringing them up is to spend quality time with them without getting distracted by our mobile phones, and also to expose them to the world of Internet appropriately. While the Internet definitely serves as the window to the world, it also makes them susceptible to a host of unwanted things like cyber-bullying, Internet addiction, adult/porn content and health hazards due to long hours of looking at the screen.
TO LET THEM BE JUST KIDS
HAGER FAISAL is from Cairo, Egypt. She currently resides in Bahrain with her husband and her daughter, Ghazal. She is a lecturer at the Royal University for Women.
I think the major difference between zeners and us when we were kids is that while we used to engage in lot of outdoor activities, they are mostly confined to indoors glued to their digital gadgets and mobile screens. It is hard to stop them as everyone uses them and even parents are all the time using their smartphones. This is a challenge. Another challenge is to let these kids live their age. There is everything around them that pushes them to grow faster than their age and know everything. They are also bored easily, and it is a challenge to teach them the virtue of patience.
TO CREATE AND NOT JUST CONSUME, TO PLAY, TO INTERACT
DR. ALEX FENTON, Lecturer in Digital Business, Salford Business School, Salford, U.K.
Kids and teens today are different from when we grew up in Lancashire in the 1980’s. Although we had computers, handheld digital gaming devices and TV, we spent a lot more time playing outside. We also programmed our own basic computer games as well as playing, which is more of a dying art now for kids with locked down consoles. We would build dens out of wood, ride bikes, climb trees, sword fight with sticks, play football, make our own imaginary games like making robots out of cardboard, an imaginary band or a made-up post office and sometimes making mischief. Today, with consoles, YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, TikTok, smartphones, tablets and big TV’s, kids have endless opportunities for exciting media consumption, and this is often far more appealing than creating things or playing out. The biggest parenting challenge I have is trying to encourage my kids to create and not just consume and to spend more time playing and interacting rather than looking at a screen. Actually, my kids get into a lot less trouble than I used to and are probably more creative. I think we’ve created a safety first, media rich, entertaining environment. For that, I think they are smarter and have more vision, opportunity and global ambition than I had, but it will remain to be seen in later life what these differences will mean. Overall, I am optimistic, and I’ve tried creating things like Code Clubs and Media Clubs in my kids schools to re-address the balance of creativity.
SAVING THEM FROM TECH-INDUCED UP-AGING
THUSHILA NAGAHAWATTE works as a Executive Officer at the Bank of Ceylon, Sri Lanka
Technology has taken over the lives of teens of today and it is mainly because of the environment they are in. They are more promiscuous and getting themselves up too easy.
PREVENTING DIGITAL ADDICTION
DINESH HAMANGODA, General Manager (Sales), Hemas Manufacturing (Pvt. Ltd.), Sri Lanka
Most of “high-end busy parents” these days expose their children digital devices with internet unconditionally. After parents relialise the repercussions it’s practically not impossible to get them away from addiction. Most of them do not know that minds of the kids are virtually corrupted and abused
About the Contributor
Dr. Debashish Sengupta is the Asia Editor of the magazine. He is an award-winning author. His latest book – ‘The Life of Z: Understanding Digital Preteen and Adolescent Generation’ (SAGE, 2020) deals with the behaviour, life issues and challenges of nurturing Generation Z, born year 200 and after. His book on millennials – The Life of Y: Engaging Millennials as Employees and Consumers’ has won several awards and has been globally acclaimed.