While celebrating the Fourth of July, a friend of mine and her family traipsed to a city park in Madison, Wisconsin, and staked out a spot for a premium fireworks experience. Sitting next to her was a young family. The fresh faced Dad and Mom arrived about the time that my friend and her family did, almost three hours prior to the show. My friend shared these observations with me about this young couple and their child. They had brought some snacks and had their adorable little boy sitting comfortably in his stroller. Their arrival was based on where the two of them could find cellphone service, as they walked around the area, cell phones in hand, checking for the strongest signal. They figured that perching next to my friend's blanket was a desirable spot to receive the fastest internet connection. This was to foreshadow their fireworks experience.
The little boy was unstrapped and given a slushie to drink and the two parents proceeded to "plug in". They sat on their phones for the remaining two plus hours, until the fireworks actually began, without hardly uttering a word to each other or interacting with their darling little boy. He was desperate to engage with them. He crawled up into their laps, trying to engage. He barked like a puppy. He started interacting with my friend as she had been smiling at him and giving him some attention. This continued for two plus hours. No conversation, no play, no interaction between the little boy and his parents.
This scenario is tragic on so many levels. The parents are missing out on a wonderful experience with their son. Instead of enjoying their time together, playing, teasing, conversing, interacting. They forfeited these experiences for the sake of whatever was capturing their attention on their I-Phones. This will impact their child. I can only hope that this was an exception rather than the norm for this family, as the little boy will not develop social skills, much of a vocabulary, or any type of warm and fuzzy memories from eternally plugged in and disengaged parents.
Parents, please hear my call as an experienced parent and preschool teacher. Put down your phones. If you have to, schedule phone free, family time. Your children need it and your relationship with them will benefit from it. And next year, leave the phone at home when you go to watch the fireworks. You might just find you enjoy the show!