Oh…thank you grocery cart makers…thank you for the tv carts for kids. Thank you mini-van designers…thank you for the five-tv-screen option.
Thank you Apple for ipods, ipod nanowatches and smartphones for the tv and movie apps so the screens can be handheld…or hand worn.
Thank you almost every kid-family restaurant for having at least 100 screens positioned around the room and for the portable screens you can check out for your table.
I just don’t think it’s enough. There needs to be more.
Maybe one already exists, but there should be a crib mobile with spinning screens for the exhausted baby to catch the latest programming. Please tell me there is a stroller company designing a stroller with a screen for the front. I expect the sunglass companies to quickly follow suit with the miniest of mini-screens so when kids put on their sunglasses, they have a portable, wearable screen to watch. Surely the smartest nano-technologists can invent a contact that serves as a screen you can put directly in your eye.
Does it make me old-fashioned that this bothers me…a lot? I could rail about how “When I was a kid…” how different life was, but that would be whiny. It’s true though…with the invention of more and more screens to watch we are losing sight of what matters.
Screens pull us in. They are the mesmerizing machines that are magnets for our eyes. There is the tv screen, the computer screen, the ipod and smartphone screens. They are used for television shows, movies, video games and communication via email and texting. Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy these things. I LOVE my phone and computer. I use them for networking, staying connected to family and friends and, of course, entertainment.
We are spending so much time looking at screens and devices, however, we are hardly looking at each other any more. What are we going to do with a generation of kids who cannot look someone in the eye? Can’t we tell that there are problems with the screen approach to parenting?
Kids are becoming more comfortable with screens than they are with real-life people. The screens make them brave. They have more courage hiding behind them. Cyber-bullying, anonymous emails (yes, there really are websites devoted to sending vicious and cruel emails…anonymously) and inflectionless texts, give people power because the screen provides a barrier.
Screens should and can be used to connect people, but I fear they are being misused as a way to stay as disconnected as possible. It is easier that way. It is easier to sit across the table from a texting teen than it is to try to engage in uncomfortable conversation. It is easier to shop for food while the toddler is distracted by a kids’ cartoon, or to drive from event to event with the kids glued to the tv in the back seat.
God forbid we would have to talk with our kids about the week they’ve had at school or the friends they wish they were texting. What a travesty it would be if a shopping mother, with small children, spent time talking about fruit and colors or singing nursery rhymes for distraction. That would just seem weird. And it’s totally annoying to sing as a group to songs on the radio in the car or to play a stupid car game because there is nothing else to do. We wouldn’t want to use those few moments to actually connect! Relationships are hard, and I think it is so unfortunate people would choose the easy way out.
I don’t really know what I want the solution to be. A ban of all screens? Absolutely not! (as I slide my iphone behind my back)
A full unplug for six months? I am not there yet, but I am inspired by Susan Maushart, who wrote about doing just that.
Consistent awareness? I guess that’s it. Paying attention to the time I lose to those screens. Do they connect me to those I love or do they put a wedge between us?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go snuggle with our girls and our puppy while I throw comments at the boys watching hockey.