26 June 2012

A Wake Up Call: Parenting and Mobile Phones

I read this Time Magazine article one morning while waiting for work hours to start.  The title, "Why Cell Phones are Bad for Parenting", caught my attention and as expected, the author’s words are like little daggers piercing through my heart.
 "Parents have to break the phone habit before it is too late."
"Is being a parent boring? Sometimes. Lots of times. And guess what. Those boring moments are what you will miss the most once your children are grown. Carpool is when you should be hanging on every word. Walks are when the world unfolds at a child’s feet, in the safety of your company. The parent is the genius who gives names to things and encourages a child’s attention to detail on the path. The tiny accretion of daily routines is dull and divine. Of course there’s always plenty of time for a phone call, or 10 of them. Children are always slowly walking, slowly eating, slowly looking, slowly reading, slowly going nowhere, until suddenly they’re gone."
When we were still trying to have a child, Don and I often talk about how sad we feel when we see a family eating in a restaurant, not talking because each is busy with their own gadgets.  The parents on their respective mobile phones, the children playing with PSP (iPad then was not yet introduced).  

We vowed never to be like that.  We hoped to postpone introducing electronic gadgets to our kids so that they wouldn’t be too dependent on them.  We were determined to find ways to be more patient so that we don’t give in to the temptation of giving them these gadgets so that they will stop running around and just shut up.  Or if we decide to give them gadgets, we will teach them discipline and responsibility.

Last week, Julia’s pediatrician told me that Julia’s speech is “a bit” delayed already and she looked surprised that Julia cannot say a “real” word yet.  My heart broke.  I knew I wasn’t talking and reading to her as often as I should.  During Sundays, Don and I spend time with her but sometimes I sneak a peek at my Blackberry to check on my blog, twitter and facebook.  Well, it started as just a peek.  Then it became a little frequent. 


Often times, when we are inside the car, I’d get frustrated when Julia starts to throw her toys.  After countless recollection of events that may lead to determining the cause, I finally admitted that this toddler tantrum happens whenever I am visible on social media during Sundays.  In short, I am busy with my Blackberry instead of talking, singing or just being with her while traveling to our road trip destination.  Don has his own confessions and realizations, too but that’s for him to share.

Am I saying that electronic gadgets and social media are bad for the family?  NO.  However, if not used properly, it can definitely distract us from fulfilling our role as parents.  The article is a wake up call for me.  Before we turn into that family we dread of being 7 years ago, we better focus on what really matters… before it’s too late.
“One day, sooner than you realize, you will be with your child, wanting to talk. But she’ll be too busy. Talking to someone who isn’t there. And why not? You weren’t there when she was.”
Are you unable to give you child FULL attention because of your phone or other electronic gadgets?  What would you do to change that?

Photo from Flickr
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