The year was 1990: I was in the 6th grade, Wilson Phillips was my favorite band and my Dad got his first cell phone. I remember thinking how cool it was that we could now call people while we were riding in our car. It was bigger than any phone I’ve owned in the past 15 years and was housed in a pleather shoe box between the driver and passenger seats. Its novelty wore off within a few months but the memory of my excitement about that new techno-toy still lingers to this day.
We’ve come a long way since then. I would have to superglue about six smart phones together to represent the overall girth of that initial cell phone. What remains, however, is that child-like excitement in adults when we are presented with the newest in technology. What else would drive grown men to camp outside of an Apple Store and line up in droves to secure an iphone that within months will be outdated? In an age of tablets, smart phones and E-readers how can parents learn to put down their Blackberries and pick up their children?
As the mama of a toddler, my home away from home is the playground. The playground, a place where children laugh and play while their parents sit and gaze adoringly at the screen of a smart phone. In case it’s been a while since you’ve been to a playground, the theme is universal: the scenario of parents paying more attention to technology than their children is playing out all over the world. Are you guilty of this type of passive parenting? If you’re a parent of a minor child in the 21st century, chances are the answer is yes. We all do it; we text while we “play” with our kids, we talk on the phone while we “help” with homework and how many times has your child had to practically twirl flaming batons before you can tear yourself away from your computer?
Don’t worry, even the best of us are guilty of this offense. As they say, the first step in getting help is admitting you have a problem. We can all overcome this passivity and focus more on our family. It’s easier said than done, as we are so attached to our phones that the they’ve become somewhat of an appendage. They are always by our side and we reach for them whenever they make a noise. It’s almost like we’ve adopted an electronic infant equipped with bluetooth, navigation and internet capabilities. How can we wean ourselves from these techno-babies and find the super attentive parent that lies within each of us?
Step away from the phone! Leave it at home. If you need to take it with you leave it in the car or turn off the ringer. It’s really sad that my one-year-old daughter takes any rectangular object that mildly resembles a phone, holds it to her ear and starts chattering away. I admit I’m to blame. I think as parents we tend to underestimate the effect that our actions have on our children. They are quiet observers of our everyday life and pick up far more than we realize.
So my advice is to take a break from technology and turn your attention towards your child. Before you know it, the tables will most certainly turn and you’ll have a texting teenager to contend with. Take the time today, because tomorrow will be here before you know it.