Picture my daughter's birthday party back in January: several girls on their phones/ipods, texting and Instagramming.
Fast forward to today.
My daughter had a friend over, and for a while they ran around outside. I even heard sword-play from the likes of wooden swords.
Afterwards, I commented, "Sounds like you had a great time."
Harper replied, "Yep, it was fun, but "so-and-so" was playing on her phone most of the time. I had to ask her to put it away."
I gave her a high-five.
What the heck, people?
My daughter has a phone. It can make/receive calls, and has texting. Data, however, is turned off. And after 8:00 PM, the phone can only contact me, my husband, and grandparents. That's it. It also remains inside when she's out running around the yard with friends. I'm such a kill-joy.
She also has an iPod Touch. Although, recently, that got taken from her when she chose to play on IT, rather than read one of her summer books, as per our agreement. Sorry, Charlie. Mess with the bull and all . . .
Then there's the iPad. While we turned in the school's iPad at the end of the year, my daughter has a huge interest in video production, and has even developed a Youtube cooking show called "Replicate It". I'm all for encouraging interests, as are the grandparents, so unbeknownst to her, she will be receiving a new iPad in a few weeks. However, it will be linked to MY iTunes account, to which I hold the password. Thus, no social media apps - which was NOT the case on her school iPad. Iron fist here . . .
Why am I so tough on this? After all, I'm no saint. I use social media for HOURS every day. I am definitely guilty of being on electronics for home (my calendar/to-do list/finances), work (social media/blog/website), and chatting with friends. I am not immune to the temptation.
I also know how to talk with people and hold a conversation in person. And I am concerned. Concerned that this younger generation doesn't know how to make eye contact or carry on a conversation VERBALLY.
This concern doesn't just arise from people-watching. No, I actually work with a number of younger individuals who admittedly struggle with how to initiate conversations. And by younger, I mean, in their 20's. Which, at this point, is a different generation than mine. (Hello, 45!)
I wonder if that learned skill, (and yes, it is a skill) is being lost on an even YOUNGER generation. I wouldn't be surprised if this generation of kids developed neck problems from looking down, and carpel tunnel from tap, tapping away on their screens.
I am guilty. My own behavior is culpable for stunting the communicative growth of this generation. Heavy-handed? Overly-dramatic? I truly believe we share the blame.
Thus, my husband and I have just started to build a habit of NOT bringing our phones with us while walking into town with the kids, or heading out to dinner with them. They are not allowed at the dinner table (that's been in place awhile), and if we are out with others as a family, the phone gets left in the car/bag. It's not surprising, that if we leave them behind, Harper isn't has tempted to take hers.
It's easy to look outward and complain about what we are seeing. But when I picked up a mirror, I realized, my children have learned it from me.
Change is not easy. But it does indeed start with me.
Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger, and is the founder of Daily Fast Fuel. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!