Just this morning I sat at the pediatrician's office with my 7 month old daughter who unfortunately has her first ear infection. While she giggled and drooled on my lap I was observing other parents with their children, who all happened to be under the age of 2. It was a sad sight I'm sorry to say. All of the parents and their children were using technology and having no interaction with one another. Most were using their i-phones to stream kid's videos while they waited in the office; while other kids were using their leapfrogs. No one had a smile on their face. No one was showing emotion. No one was scolding their child to sit and wait patiently until the nurse came to get them. Everyone was stone faced staring at their technological devices.
I immediately felt sadness, anger and guilt as I looked around the room. The sadness was for the children who are missing out on so much because their parents aren't teaching them patience to wait 15 minutes until it's their turn to be seen. It was also because I felt as I looked at these parent-child relationships that something was lacking...communication with one another. I felt anger that our world has so much focus on these devices. I feel like everywhere I go people are always using their phones, i-pads, televisions, computers, etc. When I do my shopping it's hard to get a smile from someone as most are checking their phones for coupons or chatting with a friend while purchasing their weekly groceries. And I felt guilt because I too am on my phone too much during the day checking email to be sure I haven't missed something important or surfing the web to read up on news. I am even guilty of doing this while I nurse my infant! Shame on me.
In our home, my husband and I both have cell phones. We also have two televisions and a computer. My 3.5 year old and 2 year old have their own leappads as well. And yes we are guilty of sometimes letting the kids watch an extra tv show in the morning when we are scrammbling to get ready for the busy day ahead. We are also guilty of using our cell phones too much to check our email or surf the web when we could be reading to our children or playing a game with them. At dinner time if we get a text message we usually check it. If we get a phone call we usually pick it up...even in the middle of eating!
I am not writing this to criticize others as I am guilty too. I think unfortunately in this day in age MOST of us are guilty of this. I comment to my husband all of the time that we need to change this behavior. We've even thought of getting rid of the televisions. But then we think that there are some educational shows on TV that we'd like our children to experience and there are those moments when the kids AND parents need 20 minutes of TV (especially when you have three kids 3 and under and things are a crazy zoo!). But in my heart I truly feel as though we need to ALL take a step back and look at what we are teaching our children. Countless times my son Jack has been trying to show me something that he's created or done and I've pushed him off saying "One second honey, let Mommy just finish this text message to her friend." Really? Do I really need to send my friend a text and not take a second to look at what my beautiful child has created. How dare I?! I had a rude awakening this past weekend as I was trying to talk to my husband about something important and he was focused on his phone reading a text. I felt ignored and that he didn't care enough to listen to what I had to say. Then I got a jolt of GUILT. This is what I do to my children sometimes. This must be how I make them feel. While my husband did not mean any harm...it hurt my feelings. And while I do not mean any harm to my children it most definitely must hurt their feelings when I do not give them the attention they NEED and DESERVE.
So if you are guilty of this (if you are not, I give you a lot of credit for not succumbing to this awful technologically filled world we live in today)...please make a pact with me to take a FULL day...and if you can a FULL week and try to not use technology unless it is a must like calling the doctor or paying bills online. Don't text your friend, don't watch TV, don't check facebook, don't tweet, don't check your email if you don't have to, don't surf the web on your phone or computer if it's something you are doing just because...take a whole day and let it be technology free!
If we do this, I can most guarantee that everyone will be happier and feel as if they are loving each other and communicating with each other as we should. I think you will do things with your family that we used to do when we were younger...like play monopoly, go for a family walk in the cold, take a walk to see the horses at Goddard Park, bake something together, eat a family meal with everyone and do not allow phones to be AT or NEAR the table. Let's get back to old times...the better times.
I challenge every person who reads this in East Greenwich and any other town to have a day with no technology sometime between Feb. 1 and Feb. 8. Or if you are really determined try a week. Whatever you do, if you do decide to do this, stick to it for yourself and your family.
While technology is great for many things such as calling family, watching weather reports, paying bills and even teaching children to work technology (if we don't teach them this they will surely be far behind in our society)...we all know that too much technology or screen time is only hurting ourselves, our family and our world. I guess the biggest thing is to be sure that we are teaching our children to live in a world where communication with one another is extremely important. I fear we are going to raise children that only interact with their phone or computer. And then what? This can only lead to a path that is not healthy for everyone. They won't be getting enough fresh air, they will be eating too much while indoors, they will not be learning to talk about issues with others or their family face to face....the list goes on of the many negatives associated with this. While your teenager or child may not like the idea of a WHOLE day with no technology (or maybe even you)...let's be good parents and teach them that the world is a better place when we spend quality time together.
If you will take the "No Technology For A Day Pledge," please comment "I PLEDGE!" below. Send this blog to everyone you know and ask them to pledge as well. Let's see how many people we can get to partcipate in this important act.