Parenting in the age of Devices

A brief departure from our usual political rants, if you don’t mind.

The ‘digital revolution” has been nothing short of that – a revolution. From destroying – sorry, disrupting – business models and entire industries to changing and enhancing our way of life. After all, without ‘devices’ you wouldn’t be reading these words right now. While it can be argued that it’s given voice to many (including this page) who would not otherwise have any medium but a soapbox, it has taken that personal voice we used to have.

In particular, the dynamic of the parent-child relationship. It was never as people would want to believe. It never was the “Leave it to Beaver” family for everyone. Oh, there were and are families just like that. Yet, in most households, even before television, there was a disconnect. When TV arrived, it added not only a full-time sitter, but something “the whole family could enjoy” – albeit without ever interacting. It began the silencing of the family.

It was the advent and rise of ‘devices’ – smartphones and tablets – that severed the family bond almost completely. Parents who might have talked to kids on family car trips now strap in the young ones and turn on the DVD player or hand them, even toddlers, their own device. The only conversation heard is that of the youtube videos playing.

When the digital family visits friends, mom and dad enter the house already looking at their phones. The adults crowd around the table, phones in hand, all together lost in their own worlds. A cat video is shown around, a comment in a FB thread is voiced. Distracted voices chuckle about it. The kids? They have their devices and of course, the nanny TV. The parents act like it’s a relief to have ‘real time’ to spend on their phones while the kids, well, who knows what the kids are doing?

“But I have my kids in baseball and karate and vocal groups!” the parents say, half-interestedly as they post a picture to Instagram. Yup, they take ’em there, all right. And as soon as that kid is out there (or well before), that parent is on the phone. Oh, look at that ATV crash! Hey, let’s post on rants and raves! “My kid did what? Yeah, kid!” No one shakes their head and thinks ‘poor kid’ because they are all too busy on Snapchat to have noticed.

Parents faced an uphill battle being parents before the Internet. They had an hour, maybe two, broken up through breakfast and morning getting-ready and then homework time and dinner. That was the time for parental influence. That was the time when family was established. When morals and values and ideas and ideals were passed along. They were against the great unwashed masses that had the other hours.

Now, kids wake up to an iPhone alarm and go get breakfast in a family group where everyone is watching their device. School work is finished on devices and no dog eats any homework. Weekends might mean a family dinner out – where every member has a phone in their hands. Even two year olds.

Parenting seems to end the minute a doctor yells “it’s a girl!” After that is a series of social media worthy posts. Memories. Facebook even reminds you of posts you made on their anniversary. “Look Johnny! dad says. “It’s Jimmy” says Jimmy. “What?” “Here’s your fourth birthday! Remember that?” Jimmy opens his FB and looks through the pictures. “Oh yeah. That’s the day we posted about my cake and presents.” Fun.

We don’t have family time at dinner, but we do have FaceTime! We don’t have chats with our kids, but there is Snapchat! We don’t see gram, but she can see Instagram. We’ve been upgraded.


~ by Mad Prophet on April 22, 2017.

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