"Mommy, can we go paint now?"
"Sure honey, right after I finish...ummm something"
*scrolls along Facebook timeline, then checks in on Instagram Pics*
"Mommy, can we paint now"?
"Coming honey" but let me get in that tweet first 'Going to paint a beautiful picture with my boobsie' * but continues social Media-ing
Many hours later, the picture doesn't get painted and you have thoroughly destroyed a little heart. LET. THAT. SINK. IN.
Does the above scenario sound even remotely familiar? It kinda makes you terribly sad right? Like what horrible parent gives up super precious and super awesome seconds with their kid to go check out Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest and countless others? HAS. THAT. SUNK. IN?
I write this and my heart weeps, because without meaning to, at some point or the other, I have been THAT parent and shamefacedly so. Yet I am not alone and as you read this, you are probably nodding in agreement. In fact this very detailed article When Smartphone Is Near, Parenting May Falter outlines some worrying trends. Yet there is hope and the first step is identifying the error and correcting it before it is too late.
It is also particularly hypocritical if you may, that in a world where kids are constantly being chided for online addictions that many overlook the growing cadre of 20 something, 30 something, early 40 something batch of parents who are clearly addicted to Social Media and the many gadgets that make these networks so accessible.
Inadvertently, In a world where Social media has become intertwined with just about everything we do, it is understandably used as a medium to keep up with the ins and outs of what happens with our friends, associates and people who we really shouldn't even be keeping up with. BUT it does become a major problem when time spent interacting with Social Media has the REAL potential to damage personal relationships with the same ones we tend to love sharing those selfies, Facebook updates or tweets about.
So how about we try to break this curse through less action on our timelines and more actions on our lifelines
1. Ensure your children are safe AT ALL TIMES-Tweeting/Facebook-ing across a busy roadway has very obvious risks. This applies for every environment where your child is. You cannot be fully alert and aware with your head burrowed on your phone or tablet. Make a smart choice Your favourite little magnet over your favourite little gadget.
2. See the world through their eyes: Did you miss that bird doing an awesome nose dive then soaring back up because you were too busy trying to take a selfie? Or did you just about miss that part of the movie that had your toddler in stitches because you had to reply to that tweet? Come on, lets share IN the moment.
3. Let your kids know you are always there to enjoy everything with them: Has your child stopped asking you to play a game, read a story, shared something that happened at school today? maybe you were always so busy staring at your phone screen and nodding all the times when they tried before. Indeed, Kids are excellent with picking up on actions and if you are inattentive, they will know.
4. Play with your kids: Not watch them play, but play WITH them. Sure you want to be a frame by frame amateur photo or videographer but one snap later, just let the phone and all its distractions be and enjoy the moment with your kid.
5. Plan 'no Social Media allowed' family activities- Sure you may have to take an occasional important call and you are a very busy mum, but the major premise is that you will use the time to really interact with your kid-Find out some more about what they know, what they want to know, their likes and dislikes and you'd be surprised at how interesting they really are.
6. Always Remember Time is of the Essence: Sure Social Media updates roll in by the seconds but is it really worth missing what could be the most precious moments of your child's life to scroll along your Instagram Feed?
7. Set aside Social Media Time: In the end, we are social beings and if you have honestly made the effort with steps 1-6 above, you deserve some ME Time, so get the kids in bed or if they have a 30 minute TV time, you can take a Social Media break. be mindful though, set time limits and stick with it.
Do we have a "Let's fix this Challenge?" Let's do it together for better parenting in the Social Media age. Sure we like our little indulgences, but there are way too many dual way rewards when we invest in quality time with our kids.
Indeed, that status update can be far more meaningful when you share what your child had to say about the greatest time ever when you were running loops around each other at the park or that one time when you made the best card ever or even when their silly mommy made the silliest face ever.
So Let's make it a start: Every time you are tempted to pick up that device and scroll, post or reply, ask yourself how will the time invested here affect the time I am not investing there.