Friday, August 17, 2012

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be...

Recently, I sat across the restaurant aisle from a mother and her young son. The little boy, maybe six years old, was playing some kind of electronic handheld game. Twice, his mom told him to put it away. Once, she even took it away. When he protested, spelling out exactly how mean she was for doing such a thing, she gave it back, and he resumed play. The mom essentially ate her meal by herself.

On another occasion, I was visiting a young lady's home. I entered with other guests, and within a few minutes, our sweet-and-shy hostess had picked up her laptop and started engaging with it. I don't know what she was doing, but it had nothing to do with us. She gave us divided-at-best attention for the remainder of my visit.

Another time, friends and I were visiting another family's home. In the midst of conversation, a very nice young man pulled technology out of his pocket and started playing a game. Within a few minutes, the conversation had somehow adjusted to his mental absence. The rest of us eventually left the room. An hour later, the young man was still alone in the room where we’d begun, still playing his solo game.

A mother admitted to me recently she’d used technology as a babysitter for her toddler son when his baby sister had colic. Now that toddler is a teenager and his mom has paid him hundreds of dollars to give up technology for the summer. She’s only one of the many parents I've heard complain that their teenagers spend too much time on technology. This mother stands out, though, for recognizing this: her son’s addiction to technology is more her fault than his.

How do we prevent otherwise nice children from becoming teenagers and adults who tune technology in and tune people out?

We start when they're young.
Mama, when your baby or toddler learns to use a computer mouse or navigate your phone more easily than you did, please don't make the mistake of thinking she's especially clever or gifted. Of course, she is clever! She very likely is gifted! But the reason she can learn technology quickly is because, right now, her brain is a sponge for any learning.

I implore you to focus her learning on books, music, pictures, conversation, technology-free games, active movement activities, building toys, conversation, drawing-writing-scribbling-coloring, looking at nature and live social interaction. I hope you'll allow and encourage her to actively explore every one of her five senses. (Yes, I know that's more messy than occupying her time on the computer.) Please... don't overfeed her technology or use it as a crutch for yourself. Don't teach that super-absorbent brain to start disengaging from the living  world.
Part Two of "Mamas..." on August 19
-- Reenie


  1. Unfortunately, in our age bracket (?middle age?) it's just as big a problem. I see it all the time and it is very annoying.


    1. Hi B!
      I see it in people of all ages, too, and I agree, it is frustrating. No matter what age we are, we have to guard against it. I certainly do. Awareness is the first step, isn't it?
      -- Reenie