Opinion: We Are Turning Our Kids Into Drones | Avi Gutfreund

I had the opportunity to go to a restaurant with my wife several days ago. While it was nice to spend some quiet time away from the house for a few hours, my wife and I saw something that disturbed us intensely and it has bothered me ever since. So I will vent about it to all of you and you can tell me if I’m overreacting or not.

While my wife and I were eating dinner, a family, comprised of a father, mother, and two boys, sat down near us. There wasn’t anything all that unique about them – they seemed to be just an average family eating out. As they waited to be served, the two boys, both somewhere around the age of 8-10 years old, pulled out smartphones and began using them. My jaw dropped. Who gives their pre-teen kids a smartphone? But then, perhaps even more bothersome, was that they stayed on their phones the entire meal. No conversation, barely any eye contact, and worst of all, no protesting from the parents! I couldn’t believe it. How can parents allow their children to be so anti-social and absorbed in their phones?

I don’t think this is how parents generally allow their children to be and behave. I understand that most parents allow their children far less in the way of technology and entertainment. But there is still a serious problem with the amount of screen time the average kid gets, and even worse, the amount of screen time they see their parents getting.

A child who sees his or her father or mother glued to their screens is going to be attracted to the same screens as them. We know of the harm this causes. Social media site use attention experts, the same ones that work for casinos in Las Vegas to keep people hooked on gambling more and more even as their money pile dwindles, to help them cause their apps and websites to be as addictive as possible. When parents get caught up in it, children follow.

As bad as it is for the parents, it is tenfold as bad for the children. The reason is because adults who get caught up in technology’s grip, although their brains are being shut off, they have previous experience with not being stuck on their screens and have learned how to think without Google. Youngsters, kids who’ve grown up in the internet age and in times in which smartphones are practically a bodily appendage, have not learned to think on their own. And what these smartphones are doing is preventing them from developing critical thinking skills, and really any thinking skills at all.

We are raising a generation of drones – thoughtless, pre-programmed robots who follow the commands of a phone and the programmers behind it. Our children are not only losing their ability to think – they are being used as commodities by social media companies in their quest to cash in as much as possible from the addictive nature of their applications.

Save your child from being a drone. Help them become healthy, intelligent, independent human beings. It doesn’t start with what you give them. It starts with what you don’t give them – especially destructive devices that erode their gray matter. Your child deserves better.

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. I am going to try to put away my phone each night for several hours in the evening while I spend time with my kids. Even though I really feel I need to be on call for work and need my phone close by. I realised that my kids are asking me to play on my phone more and more. Its simply because they see me on my phone all the time. And even though I excuse myself by telling myself I am using my phone for good things, for work and I’m doing multiple different things with one device instead of the way things used to be…bottom line is my kids see me on the phone the whole day. And what do they do on my phone… they play games so that’s what they think I’m doing a whole day.
    It’s a pretty scary thing we are all doing to our kids who are growing up like this and time will tell the devastating side effects in years to come.
    Parents, put away your phones when your with your kids.
    Spend time with THEM.

  2. Could not agree more. Parents need to be parents!
    To the person sitting next to me at a popular eatery the other day- my two year old was also complaining that he wanted to come out of the high chair seat. My two year old was also making a bit of a scene. My two year old also wanted to run around the store. My two year old also wanted to eat everyone else’s food from the table.

    What was the difference between our two year olds? I took mine out of the high chair and told him to sit next to me on the bench nicely or he’s going back in the high chair.

    You took your two year old out of the high chair so he would stop making a scene and gave him a phone to watch to quiet him instead of being a PARENT!

    I wonder which of our two year olds will be better prepared for life…

  3. Good article! I recently put blocks on my internet to shut off for a few hours a night to limit what they see after school and encourage everyone to play together.

    A teenager texting seems like an innocent thing, but let them talk instead. Texting doesn’t allow the social skills people need in the real world.

  4. Wow. The judging is unreal. If this is someone you know that the kids are otherwise normal, you have a point. If you saw the screen and saw the kids were doing questionable stuff,you Have a point. In this case, it seems it’s not and you didnt, so you’re spewing shtussim. I’m in contact with special needs kids fairly often. Some of them are impossible to entertain without some type of toy. So,maybe this Mom, who sat on the floor playing with these kids puzzles, games, arts and crafts, is now thoroughly exhausted and wants to eat in peace. So she gives her kids 2 old iPhones with some dumb game on it so they can play for 20 minutes so she can eat in peace. But no, ur gonna rant about it. My scenario sounds far-fetched? Ur right. But that is what the mishna requires of us. So, thanx for ur warning but we’re not turning our kids into drones.

  5. Frum 8-10-year-olds probably aren’t using social media sites, so there’s that. (You can observe the same phenomenon with non-Internet electronic entertainment devices, by the way.)

    (I thought this would be about conformity.)

  6. Yep, say, what.

    Putting the thoughts of the letter writer aside, you are wiser than the hundreds of mechanchim and therapists who can attest to the veracity of the writer.

    And for the record, your writing is a testimony to the problem.

    Have you forgotten that “your”is spelled “your” and not “ur”? Or have you been spending so much time on your phone that even your spelling acumen has become blurred…

    Sorry, the facts are the facts.

  7. I know this is none of anyone’s business; however I totally agree. I see it all the time. I see couples that don’t even look at each other, nevertheless having a conversation at a restaurant. We never bring our phones with us unless waiting for an emergency call, my daughter having a baby, grand kids sick, etc. .I would never allow my kids to bring their phone. They can stay home if they need to.

  8. we must lead by example and not lecturing. how about a total ban on smart phones in shul/bais medrash. mandatory not optional. kids will see the example adults set

  9. So judgmental !! You have absolutely no idea what is going on in that family’s life. Maybe, it was a reward. Maybe, like someone else said, Mom or Dad spent all day dealing with life issues that they just wanted a 1/2 hour of peace.
    It’s best to mind ones own business then to Assume you know what’s best for other’s.

  10. I also wanted to add that, while I know it’s a public place and you are within your rights to take pictures or film. How would you feel if some grown person sat at the table near you taking pictures of your kids?? CREEPY !! You would of put me on high alert !!

    I know you probably think you were inconspicuous, but you were most likely not !! People know when they are being watched, judged. I might of assumed you were a possible child trafficker.

    I would of followed you outside and wrote down your tags and description of your car. I might of even called the local PD and gave them a description of you and your car. Letting them know that you took pictures of my kids.

    It’s best to just mind your own business. However when you start taking pictures of my kids, you’ve made it my business.

  11. Judge not, lest ye be judged. I do not agree with your article at all. Some may say YOU are doing more damage- Pot meet Kettle.

  12. Depends. Were the kids doing school work on the phones? Even younger there is homework and extra credit work on line.
    Maybe as said it was just a busy or crummy day. Mom didn’t want to cook so they all went out. If it was just all because of habit, I agree. If the kids were doing school work or research for school I think its okay. We don’t know how there day went.

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