Melinda Gates on Parenting in the Age of Technology

Charvi Kathuria
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Melinda Gates on Parenting in the Age of Technology

Are you grappling with the conundrum of parenting in the digital age? Do your children spend more time on social media than listening to their grandmothers' bedtime stories? Former Microsoft employee and wife of Microsoft Founder Melinda Gates pens down an insightful essay on her dilemma of raising a generation of kids that thrive on technology.


Here are the key takeaways from Gates' essay:

Pace of Change

  • The pace of change is what amazes me the most. The challenges my younger daughter will be facing when she starts high school in the fall are light-years away from what my elder daughter, who’s now in college, experienced in 2010. My younger daughter’s friends live a lot of their lives through filters on Instagram and Snapchat, two apps that didn’t even exist when my elder daughter was dipping a toe in social media.

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Positives of Smartphones and Social Media

  • I am optimistic about what smartphones and social media can do for people. It trills me to see kids learning on smartphones. Doctors using the apps to diagnose diseases and marginalized groups such as gay and lesbian students finding support they never had before through social networks.

It’s more important than ever to teach empathy from the very beginning, because our kids are going to need it.

Parents should decide for themselves

  • Parents should decide for themselves what works for their family. But I probably would have waited longer before putting a computer in my children’s pockets. Phones and apps aren’t good or bad by themselves. For adolescents who don’t yet have the emotional tools to navigate life’s complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up: learning how to be kind, coping with feelings of exclusion, taking advantage of freedom while exercising self-control. It’s more important than ever to teach empathy from the very beginning, because our kids are going to need it.

The Internet is a wonderful thing.

  • It gives kids the freedom to move around in a big world, to experiment, to connect with others. As a parent, though, I know that I am responsible for making sure that my kids are ready for all that freedom — and that they know how to keep themselves safe. Here’s to staying on top of all the changes social media is bringing to our kids’ lives, so that we can continue to guide and support them in this fast-changing world.

Also: Digital Parenting: Good Or Bad?


Gadget Free Time

  • One of my favorite things is planing a “device-free dinner.” It’s not complicated. It’s exactly what it says: an hour around a table without anything that has an on or off switch. We don’t allow cellphones at the dinner table, and in my experience, they’re right when they promise “amazing conversation.”


This essay originally appeared in The Washington Post.

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