Happy Father’s Day: Joe Boughner shares how fatherhood and technology intertwine

Technology surrounds Joe Boughner.

By day, he’s a digital marketer. By night, he’s a blogger and a social media enthusiast. In all instances, he’s a dad to a three-year-old little girl.

With Father’s Day approaching, we chatted with Joe about life as a connected parent.

What is the biggest way technology has changed the relationship you have with your daughter compared to the one you had with your dad?

Picture-taking, hands down.

The only piece of technology (aside from the camera) that my dad and I bonded around was the television, watching hockey games together. With my daughter, technology is everywhere. My wife and I each have a laptop, a smartphone and a tablet. The kid even has “her” tablet, a first-generation iPad.

What is the one piece of technology you use most regularly with your daughter?

Probably the smartphone. We take a lot of pictures with it and the kid loves to look back at the pictures we’ve stored and talk about what she was doing for each picture. We also use our phones to video chat with Grandma and Grandpa in B.C. a few times a week too and our music collections are stored on them for the impromptu dance parties that seem to keep breaking out in our living room.

You wrote a post about being a travelling parent and mentioned that video chatting with your family is very important. What are some of the other ways you stay in touch when you’re on the road?

I changed roles at my company a few months ago so I’m not travelling nearly as much. Video chat was a big help but it was a challenge to get the kid to sit still long enough to really converse.

Other than that, my wife was always great about texting me with updates and emailing photos from her smartphone to keep me updated on what the family was up to in my absence.

Your daughter is still very young. How do you plan on teaching her on how to be digitally responsible online?

I wrote about this for the Yummy Mummy Club too, actually, in the form of a Digital Parenting Manifesto. I think, first and foremost, it’s incumbent on the parents to actually know what is happening on the internet before offering their kids unfettered access to it. I plan to keep exploring myself so I can talk knowledgeably about the risks and the rewards of living online to my daughter.

Before you had children, how did you imagine technology would fit into your parenting experience? How has that vision changed?

I don’t know that I thought about it that much, actually. My wife and I both live very connected lives. It was a given that technology would be part of our lives. But I guess what’s surprised me is the strength we’ve been able to draw from the people that the technology connects us to. My wife has written about this more than I have but we’ve both built really supportive networks online.

Tell me a story about your daughter’s relationship with technology — how has her experience with technology surprised you?

I guess the most surprising thing is just how natural it all seems to her.

I consider myself something of a digital native but, at the same time, I remember not having a computer at home. I remember having to lobby my parents for internet access. Even after that was successful, we had one computer. In the computer room. Where we went to connect to the internet.

My daughter, meanwhile, gets confused when she can’t watch YouTube videos on the WiFi tablet in the car. She is annoyed that our laptop screens don’t respond to touch. She’s never had to learn how to connect or how to navigate a computer’s operating system. It’s just been there.

How has technology changed your relationship with your dad?

Joe Boughner is an Ottawa-based writer, speaker and digital marketing professional. He currently works as Director of Marketing for non-linear creations and blogs as the Naked Dad on the award-winning parenting site Yummy Mummy Club. None of this manages to impress his three-year old daughter.

Sarah is a regular contributor to RedBoard.

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