Earlier this week, we shared this article on our facebook page. Don’t Text While Parenting — It Will Make You Cranky
For many this proved as a wake up call. As this article so plainly points out, it is parents, adults, who model unhealthy and addictive behavior when it comes to technology but instead of taking responsibility for our actions and instead of having the courage to admit that our kids are modeling exactly what they see mom and dad doing, we spend hours talking about the neighbors, the kids on the bus, and the negative influence this dangerous technology has on our children.
Whenever parents talk to me about “pesky” behavior or worrisome habits, I remind them that kids are modeling EXACTLY what they are exposed to – by their parents. It is me, it is you, it is every parent and adult, we must accept that we are role models. If we want our children to change their behavior, we must first change ours.
Here is an example from my own life:
I am talking to my daughter, Zoe, on Skype. (Yes, that is the two of us many years ago in the picture above.) She has taken a break from her studies and has called to chat about something important that she is discussing in one of her child development classes. We are deep into a conversation we both care about, sharing ideas, thoughts, concerns, and solutions. I get a facebook message – POP – and Zoe is in mid-sentence. I ignore this distraction for a moment but then I open up the message and think to myself, I will just respond real quick. Now, I already know that the brain can not multi-task. (I too, read that scientific study that confirmed what we already know.) The brain can not successfully focus on two things at the same time. One of the activities or thoughts takes a back seat – it is deemed, “not as important”. This is what happened to Zoe’s sentence, it got relegated to the “not as important” pile. Suddenly, as I am clicking away to answer this message I notice that Zoe has stopped talking. I stop typing.
She says “Let me know when you are done and then I will continue with what I was saying.” No malice in her voice. “Either talk to me or talk to the other person, but be present for at least one of us.” Message received loud and clear.
I stopped nagging my kids about their technology the first time Zoe busted me like this. I used her strategy instead to invite re-engagement with my children and I made damn sure I wasn’t trying to multi-task as they were talking to me. Even if we were 3000 miles away and I could mute myself so they couldn’t hear me typing to someone else.
The next time you are tempted to complain about the impact of technology in your child’s life, examine your own practices and I think you will find that like everything else, the remedy to this national crisis is looking back at you from the mirror.