We’ve all heard the expression ‘football widow’, but have you heard of a ‘technology orphan’? I use this term to describe children who do everything they can to get their parent’s attention while the parent has their nose stuck in their smartphone.
I may be a grandmother of five, but do get it. I am guilty of reading a book, playing a game, or texting (or all three) on my phone while watching TV. And I see nothing wrong with occupying yourself on the phone while waiting in a line or waiting room. But when your young children are present – put the phone away.
It seems everywhere I go these days everyone is heads down, focused on the ap of the moment on their smartphone. But then I look a little closer and see the infant on the shoulder, looking into space as the mother clicks away on her phone. Or I hear the toddler doing such cute things, trying to give mommy or daddy kisses or making whatever other affectionate motion, but they are shoo’d away without the parent even looking up – because they are too busy on their phones. I’ve seen my own grandchildren try to talk to their parents, ask them questions, tell them they need something, only to be shushed or not noticed at all because they are too engrossed in whatever on their phones. And we all know what happens if you ignore a toddler long enough. Cute turns to rotten to acting out very quickly. Of course at that point the parent reacts to the misbehaving child. How unfair!
I am from the generation that read books to her children every night and spent that hour or two between dinner and bedtime interacting with my kids as often as possible. This was the time I caught up on the day, what they learned, what went right or wrong that day, what they needed from me, and so on. I wouldn’t have given that time up for anything. The parents I am referring to are not bad parents. They are not neglectful and do spend time with their children. I just don’t hear any conversation between them. They don’t understand their time being the center of their child’s universe is limited. Time passes quickly and soon enough the child with have their very own smartphone to bury their own noses in, and this time will have been lost.