Brandie Wood’s experiment has gotten a lot of people’s attention for its simplicity. To conduct it, she merely sat and watched her children play and then tallied each time the two of them looked to her for involvement or approval. In all, she counted 28 times, and posed a simple question: What if every time they looked to her she’d been too engrossed in her phone to notice?
It’s a criticism we’ve all heard so many times before: While you’re busy on your phone, your kids are busy growing up. It’s definitely a scary thought, considering that so many of us feel tied to our phones for one reason or another. Wood’s public Facebook post definitely touched a nerve, and a lot of people are telling her how very right she is.
In the post, Wood touches on some major concerns. She says, “I couldn’t help but wonder if I was on some sort of technology what message would I have been sending? 28 times my angels would have wondered if the World Wide Web was more important than them. 28 times my boys would have not received the attention most adults are searching for. 28 times my loves would have questioned if they were alone emotionally. 28 times my kids would have been reassured that who you are online is what really matters.”
It’s definitely one of the reasons we’re constantly being corrected for being plugged in. The message is that we’re missing out on a valuable chance to be present. After all, someone is always willing to post an open letter to the mom on her phone at the playground or to write a scary think piece about how, if you spend too much time on your phone, your children will grow up to be empty shells or future Dahmers.
And Wood’s message is a valid one; as a whole, it can do every person (yes, even dads), whether or not they are parents, a world of good to “go dark” every once in a while and let the real world in.
There’s a fine line between taking a tech break now and again and berating yourself for not giving your children your absolute, undivided, laser-focused attention every single moment of every single day. That’s not possible.
Too often we moms — and yes, almost exclusively moms — get a lecture about how our children will grow to resent or outright hate us if we don’t do [insert the opposite of what we’re doing here], and the panic over technology and phones is no different. We have four great reasons to give yourself a break.
1. There is no such thing as a true nine-to-five anymore
Not everyone is playing Candy Crush or creeping on Facebook on their phones. The same technology that gets flak for keeping us plugged in all the time is the same technology that maybe deserves a little praise for the same thing. For working moms, especially work-from-home moms, checking your email for a few minutes while your child gets dressed means that instead of being tethered to a desk all day, you can take care of business and hit the playground, sometimes simultaneously.
2. Technology can make parenting easier
Surely if you cut the electricity to your house, your entire family would experience an upswing in togetherness. Without the TV, Internet or furnace working, you could all huddle together in a big lump of unity on the couch and talk about your day. But how long would that realistically last?
Parenting isn’t artisanal cheese: It doesn’t need to be painstakingly done to be good. You can use your phone to set appointments, contact teachers, distract your kids, check in with the in-laws. It isn’t any more evil than the microwave, and as Wood points out, it’s all about balance, not total abstinence. Technology is part of our lives now, for good or ill. It’s time to focus on the good.
3. Your kids won’t break if they have to play by themselves once in a while
Especially as they get older, your kids need to develop some semblance of independence, and learning to keep themselves occupied and not rely on you to direct their play is a good start. Besides, for every study that shows how we’re destroying our children’s psyches by checking our email, another maintains that we’re destroying their psyches by hovering all up in their grill.
4. Nothing can go viral without devices
Without phones, we couldn’t read, enjoy and share posts like Wood’s. Isn’t there something a little hilarious about how scold posts and open letters about technology go viral on the exact devices they’re criticizing?
Wood noticed too and weighs in in her post’s comments with the perfect food for thought: “I’m just happy lots of little ones will be getting more attention because of it! Even though ironically it took posting it online to grab attention!”