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Moms: Back Away From the BlackBerry!

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Checking your e-mails incessantly could be harming your child. Here's why.

woman using cell phone

Ellen S.: It's one of the first truly gorgeous spring days in New York City, and I'm sitting in a park and taking it all in: budding trees, blooming flowers, cute babies in Bugaboos and the buzz of ... moms. Moms on their cell phones, chattering away as said cute babies play with little toys or smile into space. I watch one mom simultaneously text and talk with her toddler. I see another reading her e-mails as her little girl plays with her doll.

I have been that mom who's gotten sucked into a cell phone or e-mail and ignored her child. Yet as I watch these moms around me, I'm feeling a little unnerved. Surely it can't be good for our kids if we're giving our mobile devices the best of our attention.

Cell phones have been around for years, of course, but this is the first generation of kids growing up with parents who have so many communication options at their fingertips. (Texts! Calls! E-mails! Facebook updates! Twitter! OMG!) If nothing else, kids are learning that you needn't be fully present when you're with another person -- not a very charming social skill. But I also wonder about other ways this could affect our children, starting with safety: If you're distracted by your device, you're not watching your kid as well as you could be, period.

Since I'm no shrink, I can only muse about the psychological effects. If kids don't feel worthy of our undivided attention, maybe they'll start acting out to get more of it. Maybe they'll feel a little less confident than they could. Maybe they'll figure they can behave however they want, given that their mothers' eyes are more likely to be glued to their mobile devices than to them.

As I sat on the bench and watched these moms ignoring their kids, I vowed to quit doing that to my own children unless a call or e-mail is critical. It's only been a few days so far, but let me say, I feel a lot more connected to the kids when I'm out with them. Not to mention relaxed.

Today I was having lunch out with my 5-year-old, and the mom at the next table over was scanning her iPhone as her kids silently ate their pizza. My tote sat next to me on the bench and I could feel the buzz-buzz-buzzing of my BlackBerry against my thigh as the e-mails trickled in. I shoved the bag aside and asked my little girl what sort of things she'd done in preschool that day.

Come on, take the challenge. Put away your PDAs for the kind of PDA kids need: Public Displays of Attention.



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68 comments so far | Post a comment now
Whitney Howell April 14, 2010, 9:23 AM

Thanks for writing this. I’ve recently become self-employed and am dependent upon my BlackBerry to stay in touch with clients. Sadly, I’ve fallen into this pattern — I appreciate your shining a light on it. It’s a wake-up call.

A Well-Versed Mom April 14, 2010, 10:40 AM

Guilty as charged - but only at home, because I’m among the 14 people on the planet who don’t have a Blackberry or iPhone. And my girls are 10 & 12 and they’ll call me on it if I’m too absorbed in my computer.

A nice reminder for us to be in the mom-ent with our kids.

;-)

Anonymous April 14, 2010, 11:55 AM

thank you ellen s. I am going to try.

H April 14, 2010, 12:31 PM

Yep your right. While it’s not bad to have access to electronics it shouldn’t take away attention from our kids.

lauren April 14, 2010, 12:46 PM

I am going back to an original cell phone from my blackberry because of this. I feel like I get so wrapped up in what’s going on with everyone else I take it away from my family!

Rachael Smartphone April 14, 2010, 8:44 PM

Stay in touch all the time with high speed email and internet, turn directions with VZ Navigator(SM). Rachael Smartphone

cheryl April 14, 2010, 11:20 PM

You hit the nail on the head! I’m guilty as charged. Even though I’m aware of this, I keep foolishly thinking my kids aren’t aware of my Berry habits. But my 5 year old his totally clued in. He passes me my phone when the LED starys blinking and I’m not near it: Mom, somebody’s texting you!

Gotta get this in check. Thanks for the reminder!

Michele April 18, 2010, 9:53 PM

Thanks! I totally agree. I am one of the 14 moms that Well-Versed Mom speaks of. I though, do not text either. I am on my computer a lot and my 10, 12, 14, and 16 year old sons notice. I do turn off the monitor and speakers when they need my attention. I wish more parents would clue in to this problem. Thanks Ellen S.

Gloria Trull April 19, 2010, 12:42 AM

I agree! It is so totally ridiculous how completely tied to their I phones, Blackberries, etc. people are these days. Parents can’t teach their kids how rude it is to constantly be glued to your phone while you are visiting someone because the parents are doing the same thing. It’s like the more technology advances, the more humans retreat. People seem to have less and less consideration for their fellow humans and no concept of manners at all.

FC Mom April 19, 2010, 8:06 AM

Geez! I’m surprised everyone agrees with this post. It’s ok to take a little time to yourself, especially as a hard-working mom. Checking facebook during your NINTH hour straight with your kid is fine. Maybe some moms are more likely to do this out at the park since their kid is occupied with something more fun than the fifth day straight with mom… but you have to do what is right for you, and if stepping away from your blackberry is what feels right to you, do it, but I don’t think you should try to say that’s the right thing for every mother.
Maybe this was just a flip little post, but I think it’s too easy to judge other parents from just seeing a snippet of their day.

Nina Sutton April 19, 2010, 2:36 PM

We should put our Blackberry away because we want to be with our children not because we are in public. In the long run, children know us at our deepest levels (don’t tell anyone who has not had one yet!)Availability is key. From a research perspective, children whose parents are unavailable - in the broadest sense - are affected negatively. That is why depression in moms can be so damaging - the lack of the mother’s attention. Moms do need to feel connected. So whether it is work or personal, it’s back to the B word - balance.


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Kreta December 6, 2010, 1:07 AM

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Bodum December 6, 2010, 6:29 AM

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