How technology can threaten our moments

In 2008 we moved from Atlanta to Virginia.  Talk about a culture change.  Fast-paced city life to tractor-speed rural life.  Time slowed.  Drastically.  My friends back home were shocked at how quickly I embraced our new life.  One of the primary reasons I fell in love with Virginia was that for the first time I could so clearly see my beautiful life.  I was truly enjoying the moments.  Time seemed to move slower because people didn’t rush to and fro.  Fewer distractions seemed to exist.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a friend 2 weeks into the move.  I was telling her that I had noticed something in VA that I had never seen before.  Parents were at the park actually playing with their kids.  No moms on cell phones!  In fact, my first friend in VA actually shared a cell phone with her husband.  I didn’t know people still did that.  But when I was with her, I felt she actually genuinely was connecting with me….and her kids.

Reading the following article was a great reminder of why for our children’s sake we need to lose the distractions, especially the phones.  If we don’t lose the distractions, we will surely lose the moments.


The following article is from

Why Cell Phones Are Bad for Parenting

Our children will always know whether they have our full attention. It’s time for parents to break the phone habit before it’s too late
By Dominique Browning | @Slowlovelife | May 17, 2012 | 51

Sally Anscombe / Getty Images

Sally Anscombe / Getty Images

Browning’s latest book is Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas and Found Happiness

There was something to be said for the old-fashioned landline, with a handset so bulky, you had to tuck it between your neck and shoulder to get your hands free. They didn’t — couldn’t — go everywhere with us. Now we’re tethered to our mobiles — addicted, even. They’ve become handy tools for avoidance, and it’s our children who are getting the bad end of the deal.

All around me, I see parents with their babies and toddlers and young kids — but not with them. The grownups are on the phone. The dad pushing his son on the swing set while hands-free on his mobile isn’t really with his child. The mom pushing her baby in a pram while she’s yakking on the phone isn’t really with her child.

(MORE: Parents Do What’s Right for Them, Not for Their Kids)

The kids aren’t too happy about it. They’re pulling on their parents’ clothes. They’re yanking on their arms. They’re acting out to get attention. I’ve heard them begging their parents to stop, disconnect. I’ve watched children start to whimper the minute the mobile is picked up — off the dinner table. During dinner. The son of a friend of mine recently announced, at age 10, that he hates cell phones. Actually, he will tell you he hates technology. IPads don’t fool him. Neither does texting. He understands that his father can never get away from his work — and the office won’t get away from his father. He sees the phone, and he thinks, I’ve lost my dad’s attention. And that’s what children crave: attention. We all do.

Parents have to break the phone habit before it is too late. I’m not talking about getting extreme here — no phone calls around a child, ever. But I am talking about giving more thought to all the missed opportunities for communicating with a child. For simply being with her. Quietly. I was pleased to find the blog of a young mother from Alabama, Rachel Stafford, who has started an aptly titled campaign called Hands Free Mama, encouraging parents to put away the tech toys and be present with their children.

(MORE: Is Your Cell Phone Making You a Jerk?)

Is being a parent boring? Sometimes. Lots of times. And guess what. Those boring moments are what you will miss the most once your children are grown. Carpool is when you should be hanging on every word. Walks are when the world unfolds at a child’s feet, in the safety of your company. The parent is the genius who gives names to things and encourages a child’s attention to detail on the path. The tiny accretion of daily routines is dull and divine. Of course there’s always plenty of time for a phone call, or 10 of them. Children are always slowly walking, slowly eating, slowly looking, slowly reading, slowly going nowhere, until suddenly they’re gone.

And giving the kids their own phones in the name of fair play doesn’t cut it. That’s happening all too often; families are together, but each person is in her own bubble of technology. Some of us worry about radiation and the developing brain. But we should be worried about disconnectedness and the developing mind.

One day, sooner than you realize, you will be with your child, wanting to talk. But she’ll be too busy. Talking to someone who isn’t there. And why not? You weren’t there when she was.

COVER STORY: Are You Mom Enough?

Browning, the former editor of House & Garden, is the author of Slow Love. The views expressed are solely her own.

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4 replies
  1. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    The very last sentence got my attention! Steve is always complaining because he can’t reach me on my cell phone. I NEVER carry it with me. It is always in the car. I don’t want to be a mother that has a phone glued to her ear. The computer is another story, it is my main weakness! I have got to find a way to use it less. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Samantha
    Samantha says:

    I have never been a phone lover, but have recently got rid of my phone completely. The amazing part is the freedom it has given me, I feel so much more relaxed and happier for it

  3. Renee Robinson
    Renee Robinson says:

    Yes, my computer is my weakness as well. When I only had a desktop computer, kept on the 3rd floor of our old house, and no smart phone, it was easy to spend enormous amounts of time with my boys. When I got a laptop things changed. I could jump on and check a few things here and there. When I got an iphone, things drastically changed. For all the love of that phone, I have internal conflicts over the power it holds over me. Good for you leaving the phone behind! Your kids will always remember you were fully engaged! Thanks for commenting!

  4. Renee Robinson
    Renee Robinson says:

    My iphone died last fall and I went back to the good ‘ole days of the simple cell phone. It was incredibly freeing! I can totally relate. Good for you for making the deliberate choice to let go of it. Thanks for commenting!

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