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.