Three unrelated parents, each on a smartphone at the zoo playground (the lady wearing stripes in the background had two toddlers running around!)
Recently, I’ve found myself getting a few funny looks. It’s my phone. My regular old cell phone with no gadgets, bells, or whistles. I think it takes pictures, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never taken one. I use it for… phone calls (gasp!). And that’s it.
Andrew has chosen to forgo a smartphone as well. It’s not that we can’t fit it into the budget or aren’t tech-saavy (well, I’m not, but Andrew is pretty up-to-speed with the gadgets and gizmos kids are using these days…). No, it is a conscious choice that we have made so far.
I cannot count how many ridiculous incidents I have witnessed with parents who are supposed to be watching their kids in public but are instead on smartphones checking up on who-knows-what. And then we read this article in the Wall Street Journal pretty recently. Most of the incidents I have witnessed are harmless enough, but what I find most troubling is when a child is repeatedly trying to get his/her parent’s attention and the parent simply cannot be bothered to look up from a screen long enough to connect.
I’m not saying I am the world’s most attentive parent. On the contrary. I have three little boys to check up on; the youngest of whom is always getting into some sort of mischief. I give them a lot of independence. I’m sure there are plenty of parents who are uncomfortable with the amount of space I give my kids at the playground. But. I do not need the temptation of a smartphone during these times. When it comes down to it, I know myself too well to believe that I would refrain from just “checking in” on all the various social media sites that I find interesting while at the playground. So no, I’m not on Instagram, or Twitter, or whatever else you can do with smartphones. Eventually, I will join the rest and update to a smartphone.
But for now, I’m happy with my old flip phone. Albeit slightly embarrassed.
For those of you who do own smartphones, how do you manage to keep from checking it every 5 minutes? Do you give yourselves rules about the frequency of usage? Do you find it tempting to whip it out at the playground? Okay. That sounded awfully dirty. But seriously. How has a smartphone changed your parenting?