Parents today are probably the most informed and involved generation in history. And, yet, in the company of their children, they often act as though they’d rather be someplace else. That’s what they’re saying when they break eye contact to glance at their push notifications or check Facebook when they think their child’s distracted. The parents are present, their attention is not.
In my practice, I see evidence every day of how such inattention affects kids. ~Pediatrician Jane Scott
Disturbing indeed: a pediatrician who thought she’d seen it all reports a two-year-old with infected ears turning to Siri on his cell phone–rather than his dad beside him–for info. Although, I gather it didn’t bother Dad too much–he was busy on his phone as well.
Eight-year-old Tommy loves electronics (and his mother wisely restricts his time on them). Nine-year-old Tina uses, rather than loves, gadgets. But both of them are also highly responsive and aware of the needs and feelings of others. They have solid relationships with the people around them. So does two-year-old May.
On the other hand, I recently heard of a young man whose hands are permanently disfigured from using joysticks (he’s still playing).
And I remember reading of a kind of detox program in another country. Although the prognosis for a cure to game addiction was poor, therapists were using physical action figures to try to wean addicts away from the screen.
And that gets me thinking. It appears that electronics are here to stay. Some groups prohibit their use altogether.
Tommy’s and Tina’s moms have opted for teaching sensible use, like watching these French stories on YouTube.
Rosa Goes to the City
It looks like parents and other caregivers need to decide on a plan before vulnerable children become socially impaired and/or addicted.
What do you think? Do you agree that this is a cause for concern? If so, do you have suggestions?
So what garners Lisa a blinding headache, and glares from a couple of other shoppers? Post-adoption trauma on two-year-old May’s part, perhaps? Fear? Even terror? Maybe just utter frustration at not being able to express herself.
Or maybe not.
Try joy. Lisa and George are shopping, and George leaves the pair to go over and look at something. No problem . . . until May spies him and the shrieks of joy begin. There’s Daddy–and just a few yards away!
Lisa decides against trying to hush her delighted little one. “Stop being so happy” doesn’t sound quite right. May does well with “Shhh,” mind you. She says “Shhh” back, and resumes shrieking.
Lisa decides that in the time it takes someone to glare at her, she’ll have walked past them. There will come a time, probably quite soon, for May to turn the volume down on her happiness, but for now we’ll all enjoy this toddler who’s so full of joie de vivre.
If only joy were the only cause of headaches!
Tommy chooses–and pays for–a bouquet of tulips for Tricia. Lisa picks up a case of toiletries sure to please their honored guest. She and Tommy clean up his bedroom, where Tricia will be sleeping. Perhaps Tommy’s giant panda wonders what’s going on.
May’s bedroom, pretty in pink, is ready. This room, however, has not been prepared for a guest. Two-year-old May is coming to live with her forever family.
We are so thankful for Tricia, May’s foster mom. She began visiting May in the hospital when the little girl was a premie, and the two developed a strong bond. Now May, utterly secure in the love of Tricia and her family, is settling in very nicely with her new mom and dad, and big brother Tommy.
Welcome home, little one!
Tommy has some special videos to show me–a young man destroying iPhones on YouTube (no link here!).
I marvel. This well-spoken young man immerses one iPhone in a specially made lava lamp, and tackles others with a blow torch, a hammer . . . .
“They’re experiments,” I say, trying to be encouraging, and telling myself that at least the videographer uses clean language. But I must admit to being baffled as to the point of it all.
Tommy watches in admiration as this “scientist” immerses, burns and hammers, but he takes good care of his own collection of ancient (to an eight-year-old) and modern cell phones.
When he was little, Tommy cheerfully (and with permission) destroyed his mother’s and my Fiddlestix™ creations, and checked to make sure he wasn’t allowed to wreck the grasshopper.
From whence comes this urge to destroy? A normal need for some degree of power and control, no doubt. And does it matter?
Perhaps. And this might be the takeaway point. Tommy understood animate vs. inanimate (and I’m including plants with inanimate objects here) at a very young age. But it appears that some children–and adults–do not.
And therein lies the lesson. As parents and grandparents, can we help little ones– who have a totally normal urge to control their environment–to learn that kittens, babies and other children have feelings, while dandelions and block towers do not?