I LOVE technology. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always been a techno-nerd, scooping up all the latest tech toys, video game systems, car stereos and the fastest computers! The more buttons and touch screens I have, the happier I am!
We live in a pretty cool world right now where information is just a few taps and swipes away. I’ve ordered a pizza from my iPad while sitting on my back porch. I’ve purchased a car from Illinois while sitting at the breakfast table. And I’ve planned a Minions-themed birthday party for my son with a few clicks on Amazon. Free 2-day shipping – SCORE!
We’re pretty blessed to have all of these conveniences and I can’t imagine having to go back to phone books, encyclopedias and a world without GPS. Yuck.
Now with all this gizmo-gushing aside, I want to explore something with you that my wife and I have both noticed and it breaks our hearts: the darker side of technology that is ruining our relationships with our children.
A quick societal glance reveals a multitude of zombie parents looking down at their smart phones while their kids are vying for their attention. Mouth-breathing with the occasional courtesy grunt, looking at the world through a tiny screen rather than focusing on the enjoyment in their kids’ faces. It’s an observation I have made at numerous locations. Below are a couple of examples:
We like to take our kids to a gym class at our local rec center. A good 30 kids and their parents show up to burn off some energy on trampolines, foam pits and jungle gyms. Parents are encouraged to participate with their kids helping them develop good physical habits. BUT, if you were to do a quick 360 of the gym you’d see parents looking down buried in their phones ignoring the requests from the kids to come run around and play with them. No conversation, no laughter, no encouragement. Sad.
Another observation that has really stuck with me was a time we took our son over to Yogurtland for a little frozen yogurt treat. Every kid loves a trip out with mom and dad for some frozen sugary delight, right?! (Side note: the red velvet frozen yogurt is to die for, I highly recommend it). Anyway, we gathered our treats and snagged a table near some other parents. While we tucked our phones away and focused on conversation, you guessed it – all the other tables around us had children happily experiencing brain freeze while their parents were neck down updating statuses and scrolling through the Twitterverse. One little girl said “mommy” about 15 times before mom actually looked up to acknowledge what her little girl had to say. It really did hurt my heart to see these kids being ignored by their parents.
I don’t want to turn this blog post into a complain-fest, I just want parents to be aware of how we’re interacting with our kids. I’m afraid of the future and how this is going to affect them when they become adults. Will they have the proper skills to carry on conversations? Will they have good physical habits and be able to excel in the workplace? I’m really beginning to wonder if they won’t. Take some time to think about the QUALITY time you’re spending with your kiddos. Some of this time you’ll never ever get back. Take an hour to focus on them, make conversation and make eye contact for goodness sake. Tuck the technology away and be present, because if you don’t… I’ll be silently judging you from the corner of the ice cream shop.
Featured in Colorado Parent Magazine April 2016