A new study conducted in five Indian cities shows how technology is setting a new benchmark for modern parenting, and how the Internet is acting as a guide and counsellor for Indian parents.
Can the old-school science of parenting be influenced and reshaped by digital media? According to a recent report, it can. The result of a research conducted by the media agency Mindshare, in collaboration with DigiFaces, the report entitled “The Game Changers of Parenting” sheds light on how Indian parents are adopting new tools and ideas when it comes to engaging with and educating their kids.
The major findings of the report highlight the role the Internet now plays in modern parenting in India. These days, parents in big cities across don’t mind getting online to garner some tried-and-tested parenting tips.
Zubin Tatna, strategy head at Mindshare Mumbai 2, spoke to Guardian 20 about what led to this study. “The strategy team at Mindshare is the eyes and ears of the consumer. We constantly need to update ourselves on what happens in their lives. We know that ‘digital media’ has changed everyone’s life. We needed to understand the ‘how’. This study was conducted to understand how the digital revolution has changed the art of parenting. We wanted to concentrate on the ‘new’ and link it back to the older generation of mothers,” he said.
According to Tatna, digital media has “spearheaded change” in parenting trends across India. More, technology is also helping to narrow the generation gap, as well as helping to enable a deeper understanding and a more “equitable relationship” between parents and their offspring.
Parents in general are also welcoming the use of Internet for all school-related work. Besides, schools have their own websites, social-media accounts and WhatsApp groups now—platforms that are making it easier for parents to get more directly involved in their children’s schooling.
The Internet, according to this report, has become a “virtual friend/counsellor”, as well as an important source of information and help for parents. “It’s wonderful to see how a mother views the Internet as her ally. While she still continues to stress about safety and spending excessive time, she has seen the bright side of the internet. The net has actually helped her bond with her child. It’s really interesting to note that while she does rely on her instinct and her ‘mother’s help’, she has parenting sites and blogs as an additional route for information, guidance and support,” Tatna said.
Such a study is likely to have a commercial impact as well on India’s growing child-care products and services market, from finance companies to baby-food manufacturers. Business owners who have an online presence are more likely to get new clients than those who don’t.
For this study, Mindshare invited mothers from five cities, including Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangaluru, to provide feedback on their online forum, Digifaces, for a span of 10 days. The total sample size comprised 56% working mothers, 18% non-working mothers and 26% part-time working mothers.
Findings of the research
Now dads often slip into the ‘mom-mode’
They are no more just providers but they actively share house and kids’ responsibilities, too. 90% of mothers surveyed said that husbands are their strongest support system.
The counselling before the counsellors speak
80% of parents surveyed said they discuss love, sex, puberty and other such topics at home, before schools have addressed it. Parents are more approachable than before and children feel comfortable discussing anything with their mothers.
Mothers find everything online, even comfort
Parents use online services to share parenting tips and discuss school activities. 65% of mothers surveyed are part of online forums, WhatsApp groups and login to Facebook for advice.
Grandparents are a bigger help than Google
Mothers now bank on grandparents to teach kids their value systems. 75% of mothers surveyed said that their support system was their mothers-in-law and mothers.
Kids’ safety is set on speed dial.
85% of parents surveyed rated safety as the number-one concern, followed by health and increased Internet exposure. Mobile phones are not seen as an indulgence anymore as they keep parents and children connected.
A case where parents listen to kids
It’s an opportunity for parents to connect with their kids and become more collaborative. 95% of mothers surveyed said they don’t buy anything for their kids without their consent. 70% of parents surveyed feel fashion is most important for their kids, after technology.