Today I watched a woman walking along the footpath with her eyes on her phone, while her two young children ran around chasing each other in and out of bollards close to a busy road. The mother was so focused on her device that she was taking no notice of what her children were doing. I have also seen this happen in waiting rooms, shops and car-parks.
I know a mother who is so addicted to Facebook that she spends most of her day on it to the neglect of her children and her housework. I have seen her scold her child for interrupting her to ask for a drink. She never sits down to eat with her them - they eat while she is on her phone and there is no interaction with them. Hence their mealtimes are chaotic and messy.
Image courtesy of flickr.com
We can’t avoid the fact that technology has become a part of our daily lives; so much so that we can’t really live without it. It’s how we work, learn and communicate.
It’s easy to let the convenience of having all this at our fingertips become a habit – even an obsession, but as parents we have to remember that our first obligation is to our children. We need to resist the urge to let it distract us from our most important task. Our children grow up so quickly that we should want to savour every moment.
There are ways we can enjoy social media and technology in general while still meeting our responsibilities as a parent. All it takes is a little planning and self-discipline.
Image courtesy of expressco.uk
Here are five ways we can balance technology with the responsibilities of parenthood:
- Check updates before the children get up in the morning, during their nap or after their bed-time.
- Give children a treat of a favourite show or DVD once a day and use that time.
- Share the experience with them. Teach them how to use your device responsibly and allow them some time with it as a reward for their patience.
- Keep a special toy put away just for those times. You both get time with your ‘toys’ for a part of the day and then they are put away.
- Make a rule that when you are out in public, you don’t allow any distractions and use that as a fun family bonding time.
If you find that your urge to use social media is becoming difficult to control and causing problems, then I urge you to seek help with it. It can become an addiction, just like alcohol, drugs, shopping or gambling, and just like those addictions, it can be controlled.