Once upon a time parents would talk to and look at their baby or child when out and about. Some even playfully interacted with their little ones during mundane errands to distract and delight them. Now technology has enabled us to freely multitask – doing anything anywhere anytime with our mobile devices. While we all love the convenience (me included!) I worry about the effect this trend is having our relationships with our children and their development.
For example, I recently saw a mother talking on the phone, instead of to her baby, the entire time she shopped. Another was a father who was too busy texting or gaming or whatever to respond to his preschooler’s gestures or calls for attention from the playground. I wonder what children are learning if this is their usual experience? That screens are more interesting than real life and people you are with. Not only are we being terrible role models (just wait until they’re teens…) but also neglecting the everyday interactions that forge relationships and encourage children’s development.
Do your best to avoid the siren call of constant entertainment and mobile adult conversation. All parents need a break sometimes and have a million things to do but — these early years are when adult attention is essential for healthy attachment and learning. So be careful that you don’t spend more time on the phone than building your child’s self-esteem and making the most important connection of all.