Here’s Looking At You, Kid!

Are you kidding me? In the most magical place on earth, walking amongst all of the hustle and bustle and happiness one can imagine, I see a man carrying an infant in a front baby pouch. This infant looks to be so small that he/she can not even hold up their head for more than a brief moment, obviously a very young child, facing toward the man, little head bobbing below his chin.  Normally I see a baby like this, and I am all “awww…. how precious”.
Well, I have to say, my comment was one that had to stay in my head, and actually had to be edited even there! I couldn’t believe my eyes! This man, I am assuming was the father, and while the pouch supported his child, his right hand was carefully holding a smart phone. Now, before you get all ‘technologically perturbed’ with me, thinking that I disagree with utilizing our smart phones, and that I may not be aware
of the quality of photo this device can take, read on.
This gentleman wasn’t using his phone to make a call, take a photo, even snap a friend or video the first time the child was experiencing a magical moment. No, see, what got my knickers in a knot, was what dawned upon me as I glanced over his way and then did a double take when it fully clicked in what I was seeing.
This infant was being entertained by a video! Inches from his/her father’s face, yet blocked by a glass screen. With multiple colors, sights, sounds, and smells surrounding right there within the midst of all of that, the child is being trained that whatever is on that little screen is more important than the reality surrounding them.
What is this world coming to? Honestly do parents actually feel that their children will be more advanced by being bombarded with images on a digital device from the womb to the tomb?
There are two sides to every story, and obviously I am being judgmental, considering I don’t know the man’s situation. But no matter what angle I try to come from, I just can’t justify how this is healthy.
Wait a minute, don’t leave yet, I promise you I am not one of those ‘technology is evil’ sort of people. I will confess that I was particular about my children’s television exposure (a fact that is still sometimes a bone of contention in the house and other times is the brunt of multiple jokes), but it doesn’t mean that I don’t
appreciate it.
One particular instance would be when we wanted to enjoy a meal at the Outback Steakhouse with Jorjia when she was possibly about 10 years old and we used the portable dvd player. No, not for Jorija, of course, but for Michael who was around 2 years old at the time. Our budget didn’t include a sitter that week, yet for
whatever occasion, we wanted to celebrate with a nice meal and focus on Jorjia. I simply made sure that the dvd player was charged up and that we had a movie Michael enjoyed, sat him in his high chair with his headphones, and ta-da everyone was happy. (Oh! goodness! on a re-read after typing this – I realize I should note that he was with us, and at the same table, as well as got to eat with us too! Upon the re-read I saw how
one may think that we left him home in his high chair! That never would have worked! No matter what we buckled him in to, he figured a way out! Just kidding, but you see how it could have been taken wrong?) We got to not only eat our meal in peace, but also were able to let Jorjia see that she was important to us,
and that even though adding a baby brother to the mix might cause us to have to be creative, it didn’t have to mean that we couldn’t do special things like this with her.
Back to the infant and phone situation.
So, as I looked upon this cozy little moment between father and child, that on my end certainly didn’t appear to be an intimate bonding moment, I tried to contemplate why it was happening.
I will share some of the thoughts that surfaced to possibly explain the circumstances, since obviously there are always two sides to every story and perchance it wasn’t what it appeared to be.
– maybe what I thought was video or livestream was actually facetime and the child was having a conversation
with mommy.
– perhaps the child had been watching a movie while dad drove in to the park, and the child demanded to finish
the movie.
– the father could be a designer of videos, video games, or various other social media and the depends upon the child’s input as to quality and readiness to post.
– it was a trailer of the show or mild ride they were headed to, and the father wanted to share it with the child to help build excitement.
– time waits for no one, and it was an imperative video conference with the child’s agent, as they prepared for the launch of the new Pamper’s product line.
– the child is actually King of a small country, and with that the responsibilities land upon their little shoulders, and they were dealing with matters of state that just couldn’t wait.
Needless to say, my imagination got wilder and wilder as I tried hard to justify what I saw.
None of those responses gave me peace or made me feel as if they were worthy of more than a quick perusal.
I believe that unfortunately media has moved to such an unhealthy level in our lives, that we are deceived into believing that this is ‘good parenting’.
Don’t get me wrong, if you are that parent, reading this blog, I am not calling you a ‘bad parent’ I am saying that
is ‘bad parenting’. See each of us as a parent, can have instances of bad and good, moments in time that affect the outcome in a positive or negative manner. Shoot, for that matter, each of us as human beings do in all things as well.
What I am saying is, what has this world come to when we feel that a little digital device entertaining an infant is necessary when exposure to reality is so readily available?
Studies show that it is imperative for an infant to have physical contact with loved ones. That the laying of the child against the chest so that they actually feel and hear the heart beat and breathing of their parent is therapeutic. That they associate the peace and calm that they feel to their parent.
Studies show that an infant being able to gaze and study their parents face actually helps them to feel security because they begin to recognize them at a young age.
Now, I am no psychologist and haven’t taken a psychology course since high school. I will also admit that I am certainly not incredible at math. But I have to say that this just doesn’t add up.
While the smart phone was entertaining, the baby was associating the feelings of peace and happiness from the soothing sounds and feel of the heart beat to that small digital device instead of their dad.
Instead of feeling security and connecting it to the parent that was carefully holding them, the smart phone now has that link.
See, while most likely the father felt he was giving the child an advantage in life, he may have been actually cheating the child of even more.  He has probably heard and read about the importance of exposing the child to educational media. That playing Mozart and Bach will stimulate the child’s brain, that geometric shapes and designs being viewed will increase learning capacity. I am not here to debate any of those theories.
I am just here to offer a thought. What sights and sounds are being drowned out?
Utilizing technology in and of it self isn’t a bad thing. What I am proposing is that we become more aware of when and where it is an advantage or a determent.
In this instance, had that gadget not been being held between father and child, what might have been experienced?
– any startling noises would have cause the child to possibly stir, which would in turn cause the father to pat the child, and give soothing tones – this would have helped the child associate safety with the parent.
– foreign language, laughter, conversations would have been heard, giving opportunity for distinguishing various sounds.
– the ability to gaze upon the father’s face, memorizing features and mirroring expressions.
– a chance to feel and hear dad’s heartbeat, and breathing, while watching his face, being present in the moment.
– learning that one doesn’t need constant entertainment to refrain from ‘being bored’.
As more and more technology becomes available, and media increases, the codependency upon being entertained escalates. Children, teens and adults are losing their attention span, expecting life to occur in
rapid snippets of time like it seems on the screen. But in reality, life is made in the moments, and should be
savored.
If straight from the womb we instill the addiction of media, and down play the necessity of interaction between humans, then what right do we have to complain when we have no connection with one another? How can we be shocked and angered when situations of dissension and unrest occur between people? How can we be surprised that people display depression and anxiety at existing in a world that is outside of television and reality tv, livestream and videos?
What saddened me in that moment, after being appalled by it, was that one day when the father really wants to relate to the child, and wants to have an actual relationship and connection,  will they know how?
Please, take the time today-  just a few minutes can be carved out of the busiest schedule, to connect to those around you. Make a ‘no technology’ vow, to put the devices in another room, start with 5 minutes if you need to, you can even set a timer in case you get carried away! But stop, look in another’s eyes, really listen when they speak to you, talk to them. If you do this with your child, spouse, loved ones, coworkers and friends, you may be surprised to learn that the time with them is enjoyable and may find that you might want to do this for longer!
Here’s looking at you kid! – Amy

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