Monday, March 28, 2011

Gadget Overload

I've taken Amelia to the park out in town recently several times and I'm always saddened by something I see.  Invariably there is at least one or two parents, more if it's a busy day, chatting away... on their gadgets.  Looking down, texting like crazy, half hearing their kids and only glancing up occasionally to check on them.

 It doesn't seem so bad when the kids have a few other kids to play with, but when it's obviously only one child with his or her parent it really breaks my heart.  I watch the kids try to get their parent's attention - "watch me, daddy/mommy, watch me!", "play with me",  "swing me" - over and over again only to see the parent not really look up. 

Do they really think their kids can't tell they aren't giving them their full attention?  Do they expect their children to grow up to be teenagers and adults and act completely differently than the behavior they see modeled right now?  It's like you are sitting there telling your kids, "You aren't really that important to me, and definitely not as important as the other people I am talking to right now"

I do know that it might be the a conversation with other kids/spouse/doctor that is important.  But there aren't that many urgent conversations that would make that many people sit there and text away for almost an hour at a time (at least) to all their FB and online buddies.  When your gadgets become more important than your kids, you have a problem. 

It's lead me to think of something else - the computer behavior I model in the house.  I take breaks to check email from Rafe, Olivia's doctors, other info needed throughout the day.  I need to make sure that I am on there for a real reason and keep it as short as possible when we are having our free time together.  That's not to say that when she is playing independently or we are having alone or personal time that I shouldn't be on there; but how do I want to model the attentiveness I want her to pay to my interactions with her?  Her time after school with us is limited before she goes to bed, and I want to make sure that our time with each other is meaningful family time, and not all of us in seperate corners hooked up to our gadgets vegging out. 

Something I read today reminds me to limit computer time for my kids as they grow older. The implication that their social and emotional development will be guided by internet media isn't a comfortable one.
Facebook can lead to depression in adolescents
The researchers say a "large part of this generation's social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones."


JMB said...

I have noticed this as well. Hate it when I'll see people out walking, with their kids in the stroller, and they'rejabbering into their phone...I always used to jabber to my kids when we walked, about whatever we saw!

Like you I just find it hard to believe that there's anything so important going on for most people that they have to be texting or talking THAT MUCH!!


Bonnie Knuti said...

Children are more precious than anything on our plates and they grow up in the blink of an eye and are gone. Technology gadgets will be around forever.

Bonnie Knuti
co-author of When Crisis Strikes...What To Do, What To Say, How To Help