Huey Lewis sang about it and now we have it. Smartphones and social media; the drug of a new generation. An intriguing article entitled, “Texting While Parenting” came out this week which made me think. I have to be honest. I do it and I am not happy about it. I was less happy when my three children started creating their own smartphones out of cardboard and drawing little squares that were apps and games. I know, I know, ease up Dad they’re being creative. It’s a craft project. See, I can justify it, yet in the end it gets back to our children doing what we do and not always listening to what we say. Pay Attention! I know all this and still jump when I hear the tweet from the Twitter world and/or a ding from Facebook, texts, and email. So, what do I do about it? What do you do about it?
There is a reality to this epidemic in inappropriate and unnecessary cell phone use. We all justify why we NEED to make that call, check that score, respond to that urgent email, or text our loved one back with, “OK ” rather than watching our little ones run around the playscape.
Here is a fun game: Next time you are at the playground. Look around at how many parents are with their children, now place the number of parents playing with their phones half watching their kids over the total number of parents at the park and divide. What percentage of parents are not paying attention to their children? Let us know. This goes for soccer practice, dance rehearsal, and gymnastics.
I have to remember here the theme of PlaygroundDad is two fold: 1. Spend Better Time and 2. Lighten Up on Ourselves as Dads so….with that said I want to reference an article from my LinkedIn page, “Why You’re Really Addicted to Social Media” by Katya Andresen. She believes our addictions are based on three reasons: our need to be seen and heard, to connect with others, and to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. That makes sense doesn’t it? Why do we blog? Couldn’t we just talk to our spouse or go have a beer with friends and bore them? Why, because I want to put my ideas to someone other than my wife (she wants that as well for different reasons), I want to meet people and hear about what others are doing, and yes I want to feel like I am sharing something valuable to others I have never met before. The reality: Take that time spent checking your phone to watch your child play, better yet try and get across the monkey bars before they do or swing higher than them. Bet ya can’t do it like you used to…. …try and get across the monkey bars before they do or swing higher than them. Bet ya can’t
Katya is letting us off the hook and giving us permission to miss out on what really matters. Let your children know that you hear and see them, you want to connect with them because you love them, and truly want to be a special part of their lives for a very long time. Playfully engage with them and not the phone during their time.
Make it fun getting re-engaged with your family and friends. Try a modified game of Phone Stacking . Put your phone with those of your family or friends’ and play the traditional game but play for something fun (truth or dare type play). If you are with small children you can either have a bet with them, “If Daddy checks his phone and you catch him he has to do _______.” or play the game with the other parents you know on the playscape or soccer field “Loser buys ice cream for the kids.” NO cheating in the bathroom!
PS: Another good trick for quitting our new drug is to use the airplane mode. Notice how many times you still check it when you know it isn’t going to beep, flash, or ring.
Remember: Pass on those percentages you see next time you are out. Have fun going “off grid”, your children will thank you.