How technology can be used and abused in post-divorce parenting

Divorce and co-parenting are two things that technology has significantly changed, as many parents in Brooklyn and Kings County know. Technology helps parents stay in touch with their kids and coordinate things like visitation arrangements, but it can also drive a wedge between parents, having detrimental effects for everyone. It's important for divorced New York parents to understand how to use technology in appropriate ways to improve relationships and make the separation easier on their children.

Technology use reflects co-parenting style

A study from the University of Missouri looked at the different ways that cooperative and more antagonistic parents used technology. According to an MU press release, the study noted that cooperative parents used technology to make co-parenting easier:

  • Parents could email each other about their children and hold discussions in a private setting.
  • Digital communications provided a written record for parents to refer back to later.
  • Some parents shared access to a virtual calendar so that they could keep track of important events and better coordinate their schedules.
  • Communicating through virtual channels provided parents with a buffer and helped them get along.

In other words, technology enabled cooperative parents to engage in clear, constructive communication.

Hostile parents, however, often used technology in harmful ways. One parent might deny receiving an email from the other or act manipulatively. Instead of communicating more effectively, these parents used technology to impede their communication. The MU study concluded that children suffered when parents took this approach, since children were frequently caught in the middle of arguments and misunderstandings.

The dynamic that parents establish through technology can affect how well they cooperate, how smoothly they make co-parenting work and how easy the adjustment is for their children. The way that parents use technology to communicate with their children is also very important.

Virtual visitation has mixed effects

Virtual visitation is a concept that has become more widespread in the last few years. Through mediums like Skype, non-custodial parents who live far away can still see and visit with their children regularly, leading to a stronger relationship. When either parent has to relocate, virtual visitation can be a great way for the non-custodial to remain part of the child's life.

However, as a 2012 Washington Post article pointed out, this technology can be abused. Some parents may use video chat sessions as an opportunity to invade the privacy of the other parent by asking the child to carry the camera from room to room, for instance. Some parents may make less effort to remain in town and near the other parent, citing virtual visitation as a solution. When put to good use, virtual visitation can be a great tool, but like most technology, it can also enable bad behavior on the part of parents.

Ultimately, technology can make shared parenting or parenting at a distance easier. It can also be used in parental fights and disagreements, which can have negative effects for children. The MU study recommends that parents visit a counselor to learn about productive ways to use technology.

Parents divorcing today have a great deal to think about when planning for post-divorce arrangements. If you are divorcing, you should speak with a lawyer immediately about protecting your parenting rights and finding the arrangement that is best for your family.