You’ve seen the articles and heard the stories. And you’re living proof. Parenting 20 years ago was different. Kids went outside to play from sun up to sun down, walking to school alone was no big deal and parents raised their children without all the books and expert advice. Now the country is full of helicopter parents who worry about their children every minute, rarely let them do anything alone and refuse to make a parenting decision without reading about what to do from an expert. Parenting looks completely different now than it did 20 years ago, which may leave you wondering what it will look like in 20 years.
In the past, parents didn’t have the technology to determine the baby’s gender, genetic anomalies or birth defects. Moms had their babies, and then they discovered everything else. In 20 years, technology has advanced enough to allow you to see your baby inside your womb before it’s born. The technology will continue to advance. You may have the option of choosing specific traits like hair and eye color. In 2016, parents who used IVF with a certain doctor were given the option to pay extra for a certain sex or eye color.
Parenting in General
Twenty years ago, parents allowed their children to play outside without being with them every minute. Some kids were allowed to walk to and from school alone or ride their bike all over the neighborhood. Today parents are accused of endangerment if they let their children walk to school alone, and you won’t likely find a child cycling all over the neighborhood unless there is a parent a foot away. “Free range parenting” is what it’s called today, but 20 years ago, it was simply parenting. How will this change in 20 years? Will children be allowed the freedom they used to have? Or will it continue on the current path, progressing to children in bubbles to prevent disease and injury?
Technology already allows us to video chat with a doctor for minor issues, get diagnosed and have a prescription sent to your local pharmacy. In 20 years, the technology will be much more advanced. Today, what happens if your kid breaks a bone while playing outside? You have to get dressed, hope you have someone accessible to watch your other children or take them with you, and then sit in the emergency room for hours waiting to see a doctor. In 20 years, if kids are allowed to play outside, you will likely use your smartphone — or maybe even tap your arm and use your own skin as a touchscreen — and video chat with a doctor. Through your device, the doctor will take x-rays, diagnose the break and prescribe the supplies you need to cast the bone. Maybe you’ll be sent video tutorials of how to properly put a cast on and receive follow-up care for the next weeks or months as it heals.
Toys and Imagination
Kids today have much more technology than kids did 20 years ago. It’s common for a 3-year-old to navigate a computer better than a 60-year-old. They have video games, computers and all sorts of toys that take advantage of new technology, such as interactive robotic toys and programmable educational toys. In 20 years, the entire home will be a learning environment. Imagine the windows of your home being interactive and displaying the name of a bird as it flies past. Or a walker that projects letters or pictures to encourage your child to push it and walk. These are a few ideas that Fisher-Price is working toward in the next 10 years even.
Online learning is becoming more common in our society. From children who are homeschooled with online programs to college students earning entire degrees online, education doesn’t always come in the form of a brick building and a schoolyard or a large college campus. In 20 years, online learning may completely replace traditional learning. Imagine your young-adult obtaining a college degree without you having to pay for it or them having to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans for it. Hillary Clinton proposed the idea, and while she wasn’t elected, free college may be a reality for students in 20 years. We can only speculate about the future, but one thing is certain: Parenting in 20 years will be different than parenting today. As technology continues to evolve, some changes will be for the better while others could harm our current ideals of what it means to be a good parent and raise children to grow up and become healthy, independent and productive citizens.