Let’s Go For A Little Balance, OK?

I’ve been seeing lots of posts over the past few months related to this post, entitled, Dear Mom on the iPhone.  In it, the author basically tells moms that we’re missing out on a ton with our children because we are on our iPhones (or computers or Android phones or whatever other digital devices) and we need to start paying attention to them.  It’s pretty much a huge guilt trip (and/or wake up call) for anyone who’s ever used a digital device while around her children.

Naturally, there’s been a big backlash against this article, written by people standing up for everyone using those iPhones and other devices.  Here are a couple of those: In Defense of the iPhone Mom and Dear Mom on the iPhone, I Get It.

What I haven’t really seen (and probably it’s out there, I just haven’t found it), is an acknowledgment that we need both perspectives.  We should probably adopt the “Dear Mom get off your phone” perspective more often when evaluating our own digital use and adopt the “Dear Mom, I can see many reasons why you would want/need to use your phone” perspective when considering other people’s actions.

I don’t have an iPhone or any kind of smart phone.  My flip phone is so dumb, it doesn’t even have a keyboard for texting!  I do all my digital consuming from my computer.  But I know that I need to evaluate my motivations and time spent on the computer in relation to how much time I’m spending with my children.

I do find myself saying, “Ellie, if you would just leave me alone one more minute, I will be able to finish this [email, blog post, …] and then I’ll have time to play with you.”  Sometimes, I do legitimately need to finish whatever it is that I’m working on.  But often, I could easily put it aside for her and I just don’t.  So the first article is a good reminder for me to be thoughtful about my digital consumption, particularly around my children.

IMG_1745 (533x800)Ellie, at six months, clearly proving that I use the computer around her! 🙂

It is also easy for me to see parents using their iPhones while out with their kids and think, “Come on people, just put that crazy thing away.  Don’t you care about your kids?”  So the other articles are a good corrective for me to be generous in my consideration of others.

Moderation in everything – be kind and gracious to ourselves and to others, honestly considering how we might change to be better parents, assuming the best of others.

(I like this follow up post from the “Dear Mom on the iPhone” author.)

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5 Responses to Let’s Go For A Little Balance, OK?

  1. Erin says:

    I thought a lot about this article when it first came out; it both convicted me and annoyed me at the same time.

    I did come to realize that time spent on my phone and computer was sometimes affecting my interactions with the children in a negative way. Since then, I have tried to be more thoughtful and ask myself, “do I need to be checking my email right now?” and other such questions. It’s helped me be more aware of my use of technology and consider more appropriate times to use my various devices.

    But the judgement in the article was something else. When someone sees me at the playground sitting on a bench and reading on my phone, s/he has no idea what came before the trip out. Maybe I had been doing enriching activities with my children all day and needed a sanity break so that I didn’t snap. Or maybe my husband is working most of the weekend, and so I’m using the playground time to take a few moments to look at my flashcards or review lecture slides. Also, I think it’s unhealthy for children to feel that every second of every day revolves around them, and I think it’s good for them to play with other children or by themselves. I should watch (and I do enjoy doing so) some activities on the playground, but I don’t think my children will be adversely affected if I don’t see every attempt at a cartwheel or slide down the fire pole.

    Another point is that technology is helpful and can be used for very good purposes. So Sunday night, someone might have seen me at dinner and thought, “good heavens–that lady can’t even serve her children dinner without getting distracted by her iPhone!” But what they might not know is that the phone helps me more accurately count carbs and record blood sugars and calculate insulin doses in an effort to keep one of my children healthy (and alive). Glucose meters, insulin pumps, and other medical devices. can be very easily mistaken for funky phones and MP3 players by the uninitiated.

    So, I guess all this is to say that I think you hit the nail on the head. 🙂

    • Laura says:

      Thanks Erin! Yes, you’re a great example of the balance I’m looking for. It’s impossible to know what other people are using their technology for and/or why they happen to have their phones out but we certainly can assess our own use.

  2. Jennie Beckman says:

    I just watched a commencement speech which addressed this question of striking a balance in a much broader way – thought you might appreciate watching it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgGzz3fKINA (he starts with some dry humor but I swear it’s worth it to watch until the end!)

    • Laura says:

      Thank you Jennie! I just watched this (while finishing up my last color book). I appreciate you sharing it with me – some great thoughts.

  3. Pingback: What Children Want Most From Their Mom [isn't necessarily what they should get] | Salmon and Souvlaki

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