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Taking the Edge Off of Parenting

Dalma Ricci •

How relying on edge infrastructure helped me become more flexible as a parent

We have much to learn from the situation in which we’re currently living, and here are my thoughts as to why.

I always prided myself on being the kind of mom who limits the amount of television my children watch. With strict rules to abide by: maximum 1-2 hours a day, no playing on devices, and make sure you read a book every now and then to get your brain juices flowing. Although these values still hold true to me, I was forced to change my strict regimen abruptly, on Monday, March 9, 2020 – Italy’s viral D-day.

Parents suddenly found themselves at home with their children to care for on top of their work demands. It was a serious shock. New routines had to be created, and parental sanity maintained.

Although I came up with a varied routine for the day, much of it consisted of plopping my children in front of the television to be able to work, cook, clean, and go to the loo. It became vital to find five minutes to breathe, but it was in this instance when my “ah-ha” moment surfaced, even though I had unconsciously been resisting the idea.                     

I hurriedly subscribed to Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, adding to their now 50 million global subscribers, and included a series of cartoons in my 4-year-old daughter’s Netflix “watch list.” It was to be expected, of course. With millions of workers around the globe now home, the internet was bound to see a dramatic increase in traffic since the initial lockdown.

Also to be expected, was an increased demand for video streaming and other critical activities brought about by home quarantine. Cloud service providers found themselves scrambling to meet consumer demands and bring data to users even faster, from videoconferencing during the day to low-latency game streaming that caters to audiences like my husband, craving their five minutes of peace at night.

Within a matter of only two weeks, data has quickly been redistributed and is now being both created and accessed from suburban home offices, found at the edges of city centers. With telecom companies and streaming service providers set on increasing capacity, speed, and performance, we are witnessing the beginnings of new distributed Edge network locations, originating from our own homes. This way, the next time you’re on a Microsoft Teams video conference call and your teenage daughter takes her test on Google Classroom, your residential bandwidth won’t flip you the finger.

Surprisingly, this super surge in data traffic hasn’t crippled the internet. Apart from a few (understandable) hiccups on FaceTime when we call my daughter’s “Nonni” for her bedtime story, the web seems to be doing a fine job of withstanding the current strain, meaning that the IT infrastructure is rather solid.

Thanks to the service professionals currently in the field, who keep this backbone up and running, we can conference call 10 at a time as we smart work. We can feel close to our loved ones with only the tap of a finger, and we can watch those late-night Netflix programs after having put our little ones to sleep — all done seamlessly.

As data becomes more flexible, with no true single point of creation, we too must allow ourselves to be flexible as parents.

So let’s toast to us — parents who find that extra thread of patience because we unashamedly unplugged with a bit of streaming services the night before. Pop that bottle of wine you’ve been eyeing, because you deserve it. And after all, you’re livin’ on the Edge.

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