We are living, right now, this moment, in a brave new world. No, it’s not the literary nightmare Huxley imagined in 1932. It’s a different kind of new world; an ongoing experiment for which we’ve all complicity signed on. If a scientist were to sit down and formulate a hypothesis, this starting point for his wonderings would be this:
What is the outcome when parents are physically present but chronically distracted, engaged elsewhere for large portions of the day and unable/unwilling to participate in what was once considered normal family life?
In other words, what on earth will our kids be like in 20 years… when all we can do today is sit on our phones and scroll through our social media accounts?
I admit, I have a huge, massive, unrelenting bias against parents who appear to be more tuned in to their devices than their kids. I’m not talking about the mom who is reading on her iPad at the park and keeps looking up, talking to her kids, and otherwise being relevant to their experience. I’m not talking about the dad who is shooting off a work text or two prior to dinner at a restaurant, then sets the phone aside and converses with his family. Let’s drop our defensive stances here for a minute and admit that yes, there are perfectly legitimate times and places and reasons for having a device in your face. But we have all seen folks who go above and beyond that. I’m not going to categorize all the offenses here. But let’s agree that it happens, and yeah, there are times when we ourselves are the perpetrators.
But I don’t want to be that mom.
I don’t want my kids to see me more interested in a tiny screen than their drawing skills. I don’t want their memories of me to include a phone glued to my hand, or, worse yet, holding my attention when they themselves would be so grateful to bask in it.
Life here at Floating Axe Farm has had a different, less peaceful rhythm to it as of late, and I admit— I’ve found myself drawn to escape more often than I’d like. And with a phone just a reach away, well… it’s so easy to get into the habit of checking my email, popping on to check messages, even heading over to Facebook to look at other folks’ vacation photos.
I recognize that it’s an issue. So I went looking for an answer and, lo and behold, technology itself offered one to me. The Moment app is currently providing me with an added level of accountability to live here, now. To put down my phone, and be present. To engage.
It’s not perfect (that 49 minutes from yesterday included time spent driving with my Google Maps open), but it’s free and it’s convicting without being preachy. Since reports show the average user utilizing their phone alone at least 4 hours per day, I bet there are other parents out there looking for ways to curb the habit. Moment might be a fit. If not, there are other options out there!
All this to say, the experiment needs a control group: a core group of parents willing to put down their devices and stay engaged. To forego Clash of the Clans in favor of Settlers of Catan. To put off responding to a text from a friend miles away to answer a question from your own 4 year-old. We make the choice to be present, moment by moment.