“I’m discovering something new right now at the playground. Why won’t mommy come over to me when I call for her? I want to know what this thing is called. I need to learn why it does this thing? Where is mommy? Why is she looking at that little thing in her hand and stroking it with her finger? I just called for her again but she’s telling me to wait without looking at me. Why is that thing in her hand so important? Does mommy not like being with me? I want to be with her but she wants to be with that thingy…iphone is it called?”
Okay, to be fair, the above thought process may seem a bit advanced for a toddler/preschooler…however, the emotions and visual recognition of the theme are not.
I think I hit my limit earlier today when I took my children to a local museum and observed both a mother and a grandmother totally engrossed in their handheld devices as their two boys were playing with a train set that required coordination of assembling more tracks. After witnessing these boys ask multiple times from their “mom” and “nana” to assist them and outright invite them to play with them, I knelt down with my baby carrier and assisted them myself as I often do with my own children daily.
It makes me sad not just for the children ignored by their parents while they’re pecking away at their awesome technology. I grieve for these parents that will one day reap what they sow because children aren’t stupid, they notice EVERYTHING–especially about their parents’ behavior as it relates to them.
I’m not saying we can totally disavow ourselves as users of our present-day mode of communication. What I am urging is moderation and especially careful usage when raising young children who rely on their caregivers to give them nourishing time as they grow in these critical years that shape them for the remainder of their lives.
Please, don’t take me as a self-righteous judge of all parents…just ask yourself if you can dial it back a little if you find that you check your device more than 5-10 times an hour. Do you really need to check Facebook that often? Can that texting or long phone call wait until naptime?
I’m not saying it’s easy and I’m guilty of sometimes relying on my device too much…I used to be able to hide texting but now my one child is at an age that he notices a lot and I’d rather just go without than teach him that this is the only way to socialize.
To those that say the devices help them feel connected to the world, I say remember that you are in the world with your children now and you’re their teacher as to how they should interact with everyone in the world. These handheld devices are great tools but they should not replace the precious time with our children, tomorrow they’ll be adults and perhaps our caregivers as well.