On a recent visit with my daughter and grandchildren, my daughter asked them to greet me and my husband. The two children were busy on their iPads and weren’t even aware we were there. Suddenly, they came and embraced us with a hug and gave us a big kiss. The iPads were put away and the children became engaged with me and grandpa; sharing information about school, sports and social activities with their friends.
My daughter and son in law have limited the use of their children’s iPads when they noticed that they had become their dominant activity of choice; trumping bike riding, swimming and family interactions.
I have taken their example and implemented my own rules for when we all come together as a family. The adults in the family must also limit their iPhone usage. And this rule also applies to me, as I found myself simultaneously playing a game or texting on my phone, while interacting with others. Not only is this behavior rude because it says, “You are not as important to me as this game or this communication”, but it also, prevents us from being totally connected to the people present in the moment.
I have read that cell phone obsession or addiction is becoming more common in our technological world. In an article by journalist, Mark Glaser he states, “it’s unfortunate that real-life interactions are on the outs as cellphone conversations, texting, instant messaging and Facebook emails start to take up more of our time. Smart phones allow people to be connected to the internet for sports scores, news and weather updates.” Glaser concludes, “We devalue our current situation, current surroundings and the people we spend time with in person. Personally, I don’t long to be in the company of people who are constantly connected to someone else”.
The Jewish high holidays are a time of reflection and contemplation. We can use this time to evaluate our relationships with others. As an Early Childhood educator and parent, we should challenge ourselves not to fall into the traps set by smart phones and tablets. We must set an example for our children and reinforce the value of personal relationships with each others over artificial and virtual experiences. Be smart and use your phone to enhance relationships but limit its use when you are in the company of others—friends, family and colleagues.