Have you ever been to a restaurant and noticed that the family seated next to you is eating in silence because every single person, child and adult, is fiddling with either a phone, game system, or MP3 player? How did they make you feel?
I have seen that family. I felt sad for all of them.
Have you ever seen a Dad pushing a small child on a swing at the playground, but upon second glance, you notice that he is really playing Angry Birds on his phone? How did that make you feel?
I have seen him at the playground. It made me feel disgusted.
Have you ever been out with a friend for lunch and while you were talking, her phone on the table beeped incessantly and her eyes, fingers and attention were constantly fixed upon it. How did she make you feel?
I have had that lunch with my friend, several times. Her lack of care always made me feel unimportant.
Have you ever felt irritated because your child kept repeating, “Come play with me!” while you were doing “important work” on the computer during the day? You told him “Honey, give me five more minutes to finish up and then I’ll be right there,” but in reality, it took you thirty minutes to get back to him. How did you feel about yourself? How do you think your lack of attention made him feel?
Yes, I have. When I realized what I had done, I felt guilty and very angry with myself because I know better. He probably felt lonely, and maybe resentful during the time I was too busy to play. He was gracious, forgiving, happy, and full of love when I finally sat down to play, which made me feel even worse.
The boys and I spend A LOT of quality time together doing enriching, fun, and creative activities. I am frequently annoyed by technology and the weak personal relationships that I feel technology enables. When people joke about the zombie apocalypse, I ruin the fun by commenting on how it’s already begun because people attached to their mobile devices all day look and act like zombies. I don’t have cable or satellite TV, own anything that begins with i, or even have a smart phone (honestly, I often neglect to charge and carry my ordinary cell phone).
But, I’m a computer junkie.
Editing pictures. E-mail. Blogging and writing. Spotify. Google searches. Facebook.
I feel like the family lap top is always open at our home and more often than I care to admit, it takes my attention away from things and people who simply matter more. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I often wonder if today’s children will grow up resenting technology because it captured their parents. I wonder if some children feel second to their Dad’s iPad, or neglected when their Mom chatters away on the phone while on a walk with her kids.
The topic has already been well researched; technology supplies human brains with extra dopamine, producing a similar response as drug and alcohol addiction. I know it will be difficult to wean myself of the extra stimulation that my brain has gotten so very used to (you don’t want to know how many times that I’ve quit and rejoined Facebook in the past four years), but I am determined to make a change and balance my computer usage. From now on, every time I reach for the computer, I will ask myself:
Do I really need to be online right now? Is there anything else that needs to come first?
I encourage you to ask yourself similar questions and honestly evaluate if your technology use is unbalanced. Are you always on the phone? Is hooking your hands-free device over your ear an essential element to your wardrobe? When your phone buzzes and beeps, do you immediately reach for it? Are you there during family time, but not really present? Do you feel impatient or bored when you cannot watch TV or be on the computer? Do you feel aggravated when you drive through a dead zone and lose cell service? Do you check the status updates of others instead of asking your child how their day was? Do you prefer texting or e-mailing to making a human connection through conversation?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, please read How to Miss a Childhood from Hands Free Mama. It might just change your perspective, and possibly your life.
Stay tuned for my next post, Login To Your Life, for some technology-free activities that will bring simplicity and pleasure back to your daily routine.
As parents, we know that it is essential to set limits on our children’s technology use. Now it’s time to honestly confess that parents need limits too.