I noticed something today…well I have noticed it many time before now but today is when it really hit me. I was sitting in Wendy’s with my 4.5 year old daughter. We were eating lunch together. We just had added a baby to the family so we try to spend quality time together just her and I whenever we can. It is not easy with a 4 month old but we carve out the smallest amount of time whenever we can. Today it really hit me how much tech has taken over the lives of our youth.
My daughter has a tablet that has a bunch of games and shows on it. We have the parental controls set to give her a set amount of time each day, usually 1.5 hours. Once that time runs out the tablet shuts off until the next 7 am the next day. We even have it set to shut down at 7 pm to not cause issues at bedtime. She has completely gotten used to it and it helps limit the amount of screen time she gets. She also has rules that she needs to follow. No tablet at the table when we are eating, if someone speaks to her she must put the tablet down and engage them and we must approve any new game or show she wants to play/watch. She has done incredibly well with these rules.
While at Wendy’s she put her tablet aside to each her lunch and we engaged in conversation and silly play. We built her kid’s meal toy together and just bonded. As we were enjoying what little mommy-daughter time we get I noticed a family come in. It was 2 younger grandparents (maybe in their late 50’s) and 2 kids (roughly 8 and 10) and the entire time they were in Wendy’s the kid played on their devices, even while they ate. The grandparents spoke to each and the barely engaged the kids. I was blown away. But when I think about it, most places I go I see children on their devices keeping themselves isolated from their peers.
At the play area in the mall, a little girl was Snapchatting on the slide instead of playing with the numerous other children in the play area. But when I looked around I saw no less than a dozen parents with their heads buried in their phones and barely watching their children. I am guilty of it too. I find that if my 4.5yo is busy playing well with other children I use that time to check my email or my Instagram but we need to stop.
We, as parents, need to show our children that there is more to life than our tech. We need to teach our children how to interact with other people. We need to teach them how to ask anther kid if it is OK to play with them or even how to say “Hello! My name is …!” But most children cannot do that these days. We are letting our children down.
So parents, I implore you, put down your electronics and take the time to engage with your children. Teach them how to be intelligent, well-adjusted adults. Because if we keep going the way we are going our future is headed for a lonely and awkward future.