I was checking email on my phone the other day when, out of nowhere, something swooped by at lightning speed and ripped it out of my hands. They were so fast, I didn’t even see who it was.
Then I heard a familiar voice call out: ‘Mum, stop playing on your phone and play basketball with me!’ My 3 1/2 year old son had pulled off the ultimate ball-stealing manoeuvre right under my nose and I didn’t even notice because I was too busy on facebook!
So I had to chastise myself when I read this article about how spending time on technology is impacting our parent/child relationship. But I think the media is too quick to condemn my beloved iPhone for the ills of the world.
Just the other day, I saw a photo from the 1950’s of a typical family gathered around the dinner table, father engrossed in his newspaper. And how many times in my childhood did I go to the park and see mums devouring ‘Women’s Weekly’ instead of pushing their kid on a swing?
I must admit that, bleary eyed, I often push my iPad in front of my kids to get 5 more minutes of sleep in the morning, which, according to this research, is setting them up for a life of aggression, dementia and obesity. Unlike the Batman comics we used to read as kids?
And I can’t tell you how many times my kids have just about self imploded when I’ve talked too long with a friend at the grocery store.
Only recently, I stood in the Play Group car park, resolving a client catastrophe. In the olden days (before Smart Phones) I would have had to say: ‘Sorry kids, Play Group’s off’ and dropped them off with a friend so I could head into the office but with phone and email at my finger tips, we were just a bit late (which is normal for me, anyway) AND I didn’t have it hanging over my head.
As per the lyrics of ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ circa 1970’s: ‘When you comin’ home, dad?’ ‘I don’t know when. We’ll get together then. Yeah, we’ll have a good time then.’ Parent/Child relationships have always required effort and commitment, well before iPhones existed.
Maybe technology isn’t to blame for the disconnection between parents and kids. Maybe we all have to ‘check in’ regularly to make sure the lines of communication are open in ‘real time’ with our kids and put down, turn off or let go of whatever is getting in the way.