With every generation, raising children takes on new challenges never before seen by parents. Think about how parenting has changed through the ages. Before the invention of the light bulb, kids were inside by dark. Now, they can stay out late and see all night. Before the automobile was invented, children had to walk or take the family horse. Now, they are able to travel hundreds of miles in just a few hours. Before the invention of television, kids were outside all the time. Now, there are enough channels in the basic cable package to entertain them 24 hours a day, literally. Before the invention of the internet, kids had to go to the library for hours to do research. Today, with a few clicks from home and they can find what they want in minutes. It used to be that parents had to set a geographical boundary and curfew for their children to obey. In this day and age, those boundaries are primarily online. “Don’t go past that landmark” has now been replaced with “Don’t go to that website.”

Like it or not, we are in the zenith of the technological age, and it seems that parenting has to morph just as rapidly as the technologies that are created. Just in the last 15 years, parents have had to address the following technological bombardments: MP3’s, iPods, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Nook, Kindle, instant messaging, web cams, cell phones, texting, Xbox, DVR, TiVo, and more. To an older ear, some of those terms can bring confusion.

To an “old-timer,” YouTube can sound like your toothpaste. Isn’t Kindle something you do to a fire? Should the trend continue, parents will have to address and adapt to even more technology in order to stay current and communicate with their children. So, how do you do it? How does a parent stay informed, connected and even communicate with their children in such an age?

Get educated. Listen to your children and you will learn a lot. They will talk about the latest technology, how they use it or how they want to use it. Ask questions. Get online and “google” to find answers. Go to the store and talk to the employees. Knowledge is power and too often parents are powerless simply because they don’t even know what they don’t know.

Get online. If your kids are on Facebook, you need a Facebook account. If your kids use Twitter, you need to have a Twitter account and subscribe to theirs. If your child plays Xbox, you need to at least be familiar with the game and how it’s played. If your child likes to text message, you need to learn how to do it. Nothing can distance a parent quicker than not understanding their child’s world. There is already a great chasm between a child and his old man. You being online and trying to interact with your child can help bridge that gap a bit.

It does not mean you have to like everything your child posts. It does not mean you have to “tag” every photo your child is in. It just means you have to be nearby, online. Isn’t that the heart of parenting anyway – being near your children? (By the way, if you aren’t familiar with the phrases “Twitter,” “subscribe,” “like,” “tag,” and “posts,” you are officially out of touch and need this article more than you realize.)

Do not over react. Remember, technology is not the problem. It’s the use or abuse of it that can be the problem. Just because you heard a story about some kid in some mid-western state that abused MySpace does not mean that your child will do the same. Just because other teenagers are “sexting” (sending naked pictures of themselves via text) does not mean yours is, or will. When you hear stories of how technology is being abused, talk it through with your kids. Make sure they understand the pitfalls and realize the consequences are real when technology is abused. Just as you would warn them of the dangers of driving, you too need to make sure they understand the dangers online or with various technologies.