When Children Are Less Important Than Our Phones
My partner and I were out and about recently with a young couple and their one-year-old child. We were sitting around the table chatting as you do and a thought struck me as I watched the interactions.
The child was being given attention by us all at varying times throughout our visit, however if a phone alert went off, the phone was prioritised before the child. It took me some time to notice it but when I did I started actively looking for this behaviour. Sure enough, someone would be playing peek a boo or chatting to the child then when their phone alerted them to some interaction, they would cease their interaction with the child to check their phone. The child was then left sitting with no concept of why suddenly there was no more interaction, a puzzled look on their face as they looked to others who were also frequently occupied with their phones.
After this eye opening encounter, I started to notice this more and more, children being left hanging whilst parents and/or carers checked their electronic gadgetry. Those children at such a young age have no concept of what is happening, they do however quickly learn that anything that is happening can stop and start for no apparent reason.
How many times have we seen the same thing and just not acknowledged it for what it is?
If a toddler is brought up seeing that interactions with gadgetry are the most important thing, what does that say for their life as they get older? The technology is more important than any one to one interactions? People on the end of a phone are more important than people standing in front of you? The virtual world is more important than the real world?
These young children are being brought up with less and less direct interaction with others which leaves them bereft of social skills when they do have to attend somewhere with new people such as nursery or school. This lack of skills in one so young can have a knock on effect on the rest of their lives as they struggle to interact with others.
Look around you the next time you are out and about, especially at the young children sitting in buggies or high chairs, playing in the park and see how many are waiting for some sort of interaction whilst their parent/carer is interacting with their technology.
Kids yelling for attention from Mum or Dad, whether it is to show them something they have achieved or to ask a question are ignored as parents stare at their phones. The only time they get undivided attention from someone is when they do something wrong and others become involved. No wonder we have so many children with behavioural difficulties, they have no clue how to interact with others.
Whether it is being ignored by those who care for them or being sat in front of a screen to keep them quiet, children are becoming less and less able to deal with social interaction.
It’s time to step away from the phones and step towards the children.