Putting My Phone Away to Enjoy the Here and Now
Tuning in to the Bright Horizons webinar on children and technology caused me to reflect on my own behavior with technology. Since my son, Beckett, is only six-months-old, he’s obviously not asking for the iPad or to play Candy Crush on my phone.
With a baby so young, I often tell myself that he doesn’t know what I’m doing when I choose to scroll through my Facebook newsfeed on my phone. And maybe he doesn’t. But maybe he does. I wish I could tell you that I’m the perfect parent, and I give Beckett one hundred percent of my attention when I’m with him. It pains me to even say this, but that’s not the truth. I multitask. Maybe I sit down on the ground to play with him and give him all of my attention for five to ten minutes. Inevitably, though, I pick up my phone at some point. I check my email, scroll through Facebook or Instagram, post a picture to Lifecake, check the weather, or send a text message. My husband’s habits aren’t very different from mine.
My husband and I have already had conversations about how we expect Beckett to interact with technology when he’s older. I won’t get into details but basically, we want him to be familiar with it and know how to use it. What we don’t want is for screens and technology to serve as a go-to pacifier. To protect my future self from embarrassment, I’ll add a disclaimer in here about how, despite my good intentions, this probably will happen on occasion. The point, though, is that we don’t want it to be the norm. We don’t want him to expect to always play on the iPad while we’re out to eat at a restaurant, for instance. Instead, we want him to learn proper behaviors such as how to behave in these social situations and how to interact with other people at the table. The same goes for time spent at home. Sure, he’s going to have some screen time. But aside from that designated time, we want him to play with other non-digital toys, get outside and explore and build on his relationships with my husband and myself as well as any future siblings he may have.
Spending time thinking about our son’s future in the digital age has, frankly, put our own tech behavior into focus. It has made me think: if Beckett grows up watching both of us glued to our phones when we have a spare moment, how can we expect anything different from him? If he sees us sitting on the couch together, yet not speaking to one another, and instead checking email or social media, won’t he think this is the norm? More importantly (and also frighteningly), will he think that our phones and all that they encompass are more important than spending quality time with him or with one another? This is not the kind of world or family life that I want my son to come to know.
So, in the past couple of weeks I’ve made a serious effort to put my phone down and instead focus on what matters: the people in my life. I even committed to a social media free weekend a couple of weekends ago. And honestly? It was quite freeing and refreshing. It brought to light how often I mindlessly pick up my phone for no other reason than to pass the time. Taking a break enabled me to truly focus on the people around me and fully engage in meaningful conversations or interactions with them that I would not have had otherwise. It also gave me the realization that I’m not missing anything just because I choose not to check my email or social media for a few hours. It will all be there when I check it the next time. What may not be there, though, are the moments with those around me and the opportunity to model good behavior for my son. And that is something that I’m not willing to miss out on.
- 5 Things I’ve Learned About Raising Kids in the Digital Age from The Family Room blog
- Screen Free Week: A Pledge for Parents from the Family Room blog
- More posts about technology from The Family Room bloggers