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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Digital age challenges parenting standards

Perfect Chivima
Social media has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with others, but its impact on parenting has been a double-edged sword with a huge number of conservative parents struggling to keep up with the digital age.

Social media statistics in Zimbabwe to the present day confirm that social media rates are 51.4% on Facebook, 17.22% on Pinterest, 15% on Twitter,  8% on YouTube, 5% on Instagram and 3% on LinkedIn.

While the digital age has opened up new avenues for sharing information and connecting with other parents, it has also brought about a host of challenges and concerns.

Vimbai Bheura (29) a single mother of two, finds herself constantly comparing her parenting skills to those of other parents online, which sometimes leaves her feeling inadequate.

She is always grappling with the pressures of showcasing the perfect family life on social media. “Social media is full of pressure it is like we need to constantly post updates about your baby’s milestones and achievements to keep up with other friends and family members who also share similar content,” she said

Similarly, Mr. and Mrs Sithole from Woodlands Park admitted that their bright and inquisitive 12-year-old daughter started to show a change in her behavior ever since they bought her a smartphone.

“She is becoming more withdrawn, irritable, and obsessed with her online activities,” said Mrs Sithole. The troubled parents helplessly observe their daughter spend more time on the internet.

“Her grades began to suffer, and she started neglecting her schoolwork and household chores. She no longer listens and isolates herself more often” said Sithole

The duo tried to limit her screen time and encourage her to engage in offline activities, but she would become defiant and argumentative whenever they confronted her about her excessive internet use.

Faith Chuma (27) is also one of the parents who compares her parenting skills to the curated images and stories she encounters on social media, which leads to self-doubt in her abilities as a mother.

She is pressured to be the “perfect” parent who cooks bon vivant meals every day and maintains a spotless home at all times.  In reality, she struggles to balance work, household chores, and quality time with her kids, leading to feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

“You have to stay up to the time in this digital era because the streets are not safe if you are not trending,” she said.

Shamilla Chinho a teenager at Ascot High School is popular on social media with a large following on Instagram and TikTok, as she enjoys sharing photos of her daily life.

However, she is entangled in the dark side of social media as she became the target of cyber bullying. “It started innocently enough with a few mean comments on my posts, but soon escalated into a full-blown campaign with hurtful rumors and vicious attacks on my character,” she said.

Shamilla’s confidence plummeted, and she admitted that she began to dread going to school and checking her social media accounts.

“As the bullying worsened, Shamilla’s mental health deteriorated. She struggled with anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation” said Shamilla’s mother.

Despite any parents’ efforts to support and intervene, online abuse takes a toll on the well-being of children. Unbeknownst to parents, children stumble upon harmful content online.
Continuous exposure to cyber bullying, graphic images, and advertisements is affecting the mental health and self-esteem of children. #TheSun


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