Technology has a way of sucking people in like an indiscriminate vacuum hose flicking through the air like a snake captured by its tail. Its tantalizing grip is like the song of the sirens, irresistible to the ears of so many people, yet largely unfulfilling. People can laud the improvements its made in their lives, the connections between friends it has restored, the speed with which it has seemingly increased daily life, and yet, for all the praises technology receives, it can not bring us closer to our children. Rather, it is more like a large wedge that gets innocuously placed between parent and child, driving slowly downwards and pushing them away. I am not talking about teenagers here as it will be years before my own children reach that age, but rather, young children. I am more attuned to young children, both my own and those of other parents, and in merely observing them, we can learn so much about them and to a certain respect, about us. As young children develop, their own personality and actions are initially based upon what they view in their parents. They mimic what parents say, how parents act to a certain extent, and in some ways, they offer us a mirror to gaze into a see how we as parents are actually doing. Philosophically, some would argue that babies and young children are a blank slate that gets written on, developed, and over the course of time burgeons into a little unique human being. To a certain extent, though not entirely, I believe in the blank slate idea. If we as parents get angry over the smallest event going awry, then you can be sure our children will learn to get angry over similar events and issues. If we as parents laugh and love in life, accepting those around us for who they are, then are children will be more likely to laugh and love in life as well. Nothing is ever set in stone and not all children will mimic every aspect of their parents life or for that matter take everything that their parents did and incorporate it into their own being. Yet, children do largely take a good portion of who they are from their parents. I can see it in my own life and through that of my parents, and I can see it in those of my friends who I have known since childhood. Its slightly uncanny how children develop into adults based upon their parents, family, and the community around them. Which all leads me back to technology and children. If we as parents use technology incessantly in our lives, keeping our eyes glued persistently to the screen of an ipad, computer, or smart phone, then our children will learn to do the same and yearn to mimic our behavior. But technology has a different impact as well, and this has more to do with us as parents than the effect it has on our children.
If we as parents keep our eyes glued to these devices of technology, then not only will we teach our children to do the same, we will miss a big part of our children's lives. We will miss the little moments in our children's lives that are simply magical, profound, and fleeting. We can miss that moment of our child peeking their eyes over the bowl of cookie dough being mixed in the mixer, seeking to understand what is going on and yearning for that first taste of it. We will miss that moment of our child skipping through the back yard to the beat of their own drum on the way to no where in particular. We will miss that concentration they exact on opening up a cabinet door, the gears churning in their heads, trying to figure out the hidden mechanism. And we can miss that longing gaze they cast our way as they play in their rooms and look to see if we are involved with them. It is all these moments and so many more that will simply never happen for parents if their eyes are glued to a smart phone or stuck behind the lens of a camera. We may catch the moment as it winds down or just after it ends, but we will never get back the full moment as it unfolds, climaxes, and subsequently winds down. It will just never exist for us. Sometimes, as I watch our son go through one of those moments or hundreds of others I have been witness to, I am immensely grateful that I did not have my eyes glued to my phone. I then think to other parents and what they might have done instead, and while not all would have been glued to a phone or stuck behind a camera, I fear that many would have been. Sure, a camera can capture their look or that moment, but it is not the same as being in the moment with a child and having no interference whatsoever. There is something to be said for raw human to human interaction sans technology. For thousands of years, we learned how to interact with other humans by seeing their face and dealing with them without distraction. We learned how to become part of a community and the importance of eye to eye contact. These days, much of that is slipping away. Yet, for all that I use my phone during the day and the computer at morning and at night, I rarely have use them when I am around my children. I would rather be intimately involved during every moment I am around them than be distracted by some device that sucks my attention away. I cherish every "moment" I have with my children and would never regret not having my phone in my hand during one of them. Just saying, but maybe we need to disconnect in order to connect sometimes.