By Kerrie McLoughlin
Parenting Generation Z kids can certainly be a challenge. Why? Well, it was easy for my own parents to set limits on my landline telephone time. For parents these days, however, it can be a pain to make sure you’re tracking the right things your kids are checking out online and to know who they are really talking to on text, as well as a myriad of other communication channels. My parents never had to worry about me checking out inappropriate things on the landline because it simply wasn’t possible! And giving out too much information on the computers in the ’80s, cyberbullying, and all those other online issues? Forget about it. So who exactly are Generation Z kids and what’s the best way to parent them?
If your child was born in the mid-1990s or after, you’ve got a Gen Z on your hands, and there are about 82 million more of them. The parents of Gen Z mainly consist of anyone from Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) or Generation Y, a.k.a. Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994). Some general information and observations about Gen Z:
They don’t want to stay at a company their entire life and they’d prefer to work for themselves.
They are not as glued to their devices as you might think. While they do use them to help them accomplish what they need to get done, they love face-to-face interaction just as much as anyone else, so don’t worry! Just because it takes them 93 text messages to make an actual in-person plan doesn’t mean they’ll be face-to-phone the entire event.
They are more health conscious than previous generations.
They may seem stunted as far as becoming adults, but really they wonder what the hurry is. For instance, why learn how to drive so young when friends are at their fingertips and Uber and Lyft are just a click away (as well as parents giving rides)?
Wonder how they will fit into the world they are inheriting? According to a piece on Macleans online, a social researcher named Mark McCrindle is quoted as saying about Gen Z: “They are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation in history.” Most educated? Oh, yes. I remember when the places to learn meant the library, school and the space-taking set of encyclopedias standard in every home. These days, all the knowledge you could ever need can be found in a single device, a smartphone or PC.
Parenting this generation means having a set of tools in your parenting toolbox like never before. For example, apps, programs and devices like Disney Circle, Covenant Eyes and Life360 are a good start for controlling screen time and knowing where your kid is located. Kate Downey, mom of two and previous foster mom, shares, “I don’t think the basics have really changed. Love your kids, spend time with them, listen to them, respect them. Set boundaries. You as a parent have control over how much technology you allow in your home. If you choose to make use of it, then choose to be involved in how your kids use it. Use filters and keep learning.”
Laura Lyles Reagan, sociologist, parent coach and parent journalist of Heart 2 Heart Parents, gives some great advice: “Kids at any age want and need our time and positive attention, but never more so than times of social change. So, foster communication skills with real conversations, teach empathy by assuming the role of the other and get back to nature as often as you can together. These actions tend to ground kids.”
Kerrie McLoughlin homeschools five Gen Z kids from her write-at-home country haven. She is grateful for technology so she can work from home!