Have you ever looked at a playground mom who was too engrossed on her phone to see her children playing? Did you shake your head, and then think you’d never do something like that? I’ll admit that these thoughts crossed my mind on a few occasions. But I know that I’m not free from the lure of my phone either. That’s when I realized that I don’t blame the playground mom, or any parent I see using their phone or tablet around their kids. They’re probably trying to answer an important email because they got off work early to be with them. Or maybe, they are organising their week to get the most out of it for their family. They may even be tweeting about their day. And here’s the point – it’s okay.
It’s time we accepted that these distractions are here to stay, and they have become an important part of our lives. As parents, we feel guilty about spending time on our phones or computers. I did too. Once my toddler even took my phone away from me! Actually, he was just playing, but that didn’t stop me from labelling it a ‘bad parenting’ moment. Now I think differently. Connecting with others online helped me as a new parent. It was relieving to read about other first-time moms going through the same experiences as mine, even if we didn’t know all the answers. It was reassuring to read the advice of moms who had ‘been there’ and ‘done that’!
The desire to connect with others on the same platform even led me to start blogging, and I am so happy to have discovered a world of interesting people. So, I no longer feel guilty about tweeting, or chatting on Facebook. I know I am part of a network of people who are constantly sharing ideas and even helping each other in many ways. Whenever I have a question that’s nagging me, I can turn to the myriad social networks I’m on, and ask away. Somebody usually comes up with a good solution.
We may seem like a generation of distracted parents. But, are we really? We constantly tweet about our kids’ milestones. We Instagram their smiles. We celebrate their birthdays with ideas from Pinterest. That’s who we are, and that’s the way it will be. It doesn’t mean we aren’t paying attention to our families. In fact, we are connecting with more parents than ever possible and exchanging stories. We are creating a lifetime of memories that our children can come back to and cherish. I mean, don’t you look at your child playing in the sun and think, That would make a great post, or, I must share that on Facebook? In fact, we are not distracted parents, but connected parents. We are in the moment, and we want to preserve it forever.
Of course, it is important to regulate and organize your time spent online. I save the most important of my online work for when my toddler is napping because I know he’ll interrupt me constantly, and I want to focus on one thing at a time. I sparingly use the phone when I am outside playing with him. However, I do get on Twitter and Facebook throughout the day. I think it is important to prioritise what exactly you want to get out of the millions of resources on the internet, and choose what suits your lifestyle and your family. You don’t have to answer every ‘ping’. The best part about social networking is that everything can wait. Don’t lose touch, though. After all, the reason we are more in touch with our friends now is because they are always available online.
Many of us worry about the time our kids spend on their phones, but it’s not worth making it a bad thing. If we are connected, our children are a step ahead of us. They are using connectivity in many interesting ways. Yes, it is important to supervise them, but you can also turn it to your advantage and get to know them better – online. As connected families can use technology to keep in touch with what we are all doing, and have something to talk about at the dinner table. Minus the phones, please!
Tarana Khan (or just TK!) is mom to a toddler. She loves writing and has done her stints as a copywriter, reporter and content editor, before embracing parenthood full time. She blogs at Sand In My Toes, where you can drop by to read more of her parenting and other adventures! You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Google+.