Texting – the Child Neglect We Forget About
Multitasking. It’s a skill I have always been proud to have. Getting Things Done is one of my driving forces in life. At the end of a long day, if I’ve checked off enough things on my list, I feel good about it.
In the afternoons when I am home with the children I usually set them up to do their homework or have their after-school snacks and I putter about the kitchen, tidying up and starting the prep work for dinner. Or I fold clothes or put things away. The household tasks must be done, and I’m still there, hovering around the kids. All is good, right?
But yesterday I sat with them while they did their homework because they needed extra help. I enjoyed working with them and refereeing their demands on my attention. It is not a thing I do often, but I noticed how much fun I was having, and resolved to at least cherish the moment, if not try to repeat it in the future.
One other thing I noticed – my phone, which is usually just a few feet away from me, was upstairs charging. I couldn’t glance at it to see if I had any new emails or social media messages, something I do without even thinking, almost like breathing. And it was okay. It’s always okay, of course, but I’ve gotten so used to having my little communicator with me at all times that its distance from me was notable.
And then this morning I heard Dr. Laura’s commentary from her show that aired yesterday. She opened with a long segment about texting while parenting, sharing stories about children who were injured or even died just feet away from parents and other caregivers whose attention was absorbed by their phones. The tales are chilling and very cautionary. Being distracted while you are watching children is certainly not a good thing, but when you have your phone with you and you get caught up in texting or emailing, well, it’s downright dangerous. I know I’ve done it in the past. I think I’m lucky that my kids are so loud that it’s impossible to truly ignore them. And it’s also true that even when I am standing right next to them with my eyeballs glued to what they are doing, complete undivided attention upon them, they can still get hurt.
But increasing the chances that they get hurt or put in danger and I don’t save them because I am too busy texting someone about the latest blogging controversy? I won’t be doing that anymore. If you text me and I don’t answer right away, it’s because I’m busy watching my kids.
photo by Michal Zacharzewski from sxc.hu