In the early 1950s, how could Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury know so much about life in 2013? The computers don't use punch cards, and the multiple screens aren't mounted to the wall, but it hit me yesterday as we were sitting in the waiting room of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Urgent Care: technology is taking over.
Daisy has had a bad cough for a couple of days, and I started worrying Saturday night, so we decided to take her to see a doctor. We headed over to the urgent care, and they were slammed. We waited two hours just to have Daisy's vitals measured...then waited some more. I had plenty of time to sit and observe. Parents and children sat, side by side, literally for hours and never once looked up to speak to one another. Even with Pixar's Cars on the lobby television, adults thumbed their smart phones, kids zoned out to their iPads, parents nervously eyed other families sitting closely to power outlets to charge their kids' gaming devices. And not one device had dangling from its jack a bit of socially conscious technology I like to call headphones.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying I think it's bad to own a tablet or a smart phone. (If you do, investing in a pair of headphones isn't a terrible idea.) And I'm not saying I think it's wrong to let your children use these things for entertainment or learning. I'm disappointed to see how these things are taking time away from conversation and, in this case, family time. Not that sitting in a waiting room with a bunch of sick kids is anyone's ideal family time, but you're almost guaranteed to be stuck in a chair beside each other for a good long while; why not sit and have a conversation instead? Life is crazy, for kids and adults; there is plenty to talk about.
Once upon a time, our house was also home to two smart phones. But data plans are pricey, so we weighed the pros and cons and decided to go back to our old phones. It's not for everybody, but I am thankful we did it, and I'll tell you why.
When Daisy was born, we still had our smart phones. While I nursed, I would sit and scroll through Facebook or play Angry Birds or Spades. I didn't even realize I wasn't truly appreciating that time with my sweet baby girl. Then we made the decision to revert back to our old phones. I can't tell you the difference it made when I finally pulled myself away from the screen and enjoyed that bond between mother and baby.
Before the switch, Johnathan and I went on our first date post baby: dinner and a movie. Instead of enjoying each others' company and the experience of the restaurant (one we didn't often get a chance to visit), we Googled this and that and feasted upon Wikipedia.
I'm sure there are people who can control their time on their digital devices, but I know for us, it was a challenge. So many times we want the newest, nicest things in life, but sometimes the newest, nicest things take away from the best things, in my opinion. I want my kids to look back on their childhood and remember all the time we spent together as a family, not all the times we sat in the same room and hardly noticed the person sitting next to us.