It's a common sight these days, and something that many of us are guilty of doing. We are playing or talking on our smartphones, while the young ones are nearby. Sometimes it is while they are playing with other children at the playground or children's museum. Sometimes it is while they are alone, sitting in their stroller, as we go for a walk or take a break at the park. We are just ridiculously conditioned to pay attention to those technological devices at all times. We are all addicted.
But to what cost to our young ones? NAMC shared an interesting article today on The Atlantic, called "Papa, Don't Text: The Perils of Distracted Parenting." It talks about the importance of actually engaging in two-way dialogue with children, even as young as infants, to teach them about linguistic skills. A study done back in 2009 showed that children whose parents actively engaged with them on a regular basis did better than those who were stimulated with electronic means.
We all think that when we read something like this, but then how many of us go back to being on the electronic devices? How many people still rely on technology to "boost" their child's learning?
It's not just with the young children, either. Even as adults, we tend to play on our phones when we perceive that we are bored. I was recently in Chicago with one college friend, and we stayed with another college friend we hadn't seen in 15 years. I remember noting at the time how much our lives had changed. 15 years ago, I was probably the only one with a cell phone. It cost something like a dollar a minute to use, so I only had it for emergencies. Back then, we actually spent time talking and debating various topics. Now, we all sat playing on our phones, because it was too hot to go anywhere. There was little to no quality conversation during the entire weekend.
Make more of a conscious effort to put away the electronics, especially when young children are around. I try to keep mine put away when I am with my friends' kids or babysitting. They are not allowed in my classroom, unless we are looking up something. Talk to the kids and actively listen to what they are saying. Engage them in both natural language learning and socialization, before we create a generation of zombies!
Photo courtesy of MorgueFile