Thursday, June 10, 2010


In today’s newspaper was an article that caught my attention. The title was: “Plugged-in parents may be alienating their own kids.” The article was from the New York Times; it began with the following incident:

“While waiting for an elevator at the … Mall near her home in Virginia recently, Janice Im, who works in early-childhood development, witnessed a troubling incident between a young boy and his mother.

“The boy, who… was about 2 ½ years old, made repeated attempts to talk to his mother, but she wouldn’t look up from her BlackBerry.

“He’s like, ‘Mama? Mama? Mama?’ And then he starts tapping her leg. And she goes, ‘Just wait a second. Just wait a second.’

“Finally, he was so frustrated, that “he goes, ‘Ahhhh!’ and tries to bite her leg.”

The article goes on to say that MIT has been studying how parental use of technology affects children and young adults. They found that feelings of hurt, jealousy and competition are widespread.

Near the end of the article the author took another tack: Parents who pay attention to their children, talking and explaining things to them, and responding to their questions “remain the bedrock of early childhood learning.” Parents who supply a language-rich environment for their children help them develop a wide vocabulary, and that helps them learn to read.

The question posed at the end of the article was whether the parents’ use of smartphones, (and other technologies that employ screens) etc. will be a detriment to their children’s intellectual development.

My reaction was: While the child’s intellectual development is a legitimate concern, I think the child’s “feelings of hurt, jealousy and competition” should be the deeper concern. The little boy becoming frustrated and trying to bite his mother, demonstrates that when this parent ignores her child’s repeated entreaties, the impact on the child is a profound psychological and emotional one. That is scarier than anything. And heart-breaking.

Another thought: the parent who is addicted to the various technologies may need “intervention” to get them back in touch with real life… and their most valuable possession—their child.


Anonymous said...

Hear hear! :) I have felt that way for a long time. All my kids struggle when I am too wrapped up in my computer-ness. I have been trying to do better! What kills me is the time wasted, when I could have been doing something with them.

Chris said...

Yes, indeed. I have spent many-a-hour on mindless computer games only to still feel empty hours later. Lately, I have been spending more time with things that fill me up (i.e. reading good books), and I feel much better. Also, I think it is good for your kids to see you read books. It is a good example for them. I remember as a child, it seemed that dad was always reading a book. And look how smart he is!

Rebecca said...

I hate my cell phone; the house phone and I rarely check my e-mails... :) I am so busy with doing other things that I just don't answer the phone at home; put the cell phone on silent and will only turn on the lap top when everything else is done.

We spend a lot of time with our kids doing things that they like in addition to working in the yard; working with the animals and keeping the house clean.

My children work better when me and Victor are working with them.

Evan is a lot like me; when he has a quiet moment with me or Victor he asks profound questions and expresses his desires. I remember spending time with dad on road trips to Indianapolis and asking him questions... :)