I watched fascinated as the 18-month-old baby reached for a magazine, opened it up and with obvious intent repeatedly touched the glossy fashion image on the page. She persevered even though her growing frustration was obvious.
It took me a moment to figure out what she was doing — trying to make the picture change the way she had learned to make multiple changing images appear by touching a screen.
She finally discarded the static world of print, tossed the magazine aside and went in search of some instant electronic gratification.
Parenting in the digital age poses a unique set of challenges.
A recent essay in Time Magazine, “Parents are Digital Hypocrites”, points out how our use of electronic media predicts and predetermines similar behaviour in our kids.
The writer, Ruth Davis Konigsberg, while strictly monitoring her children’s screen time and exposure, acknowledges her own personal and professional reliance on computers, iPads and cell phones.
Kids are quick to see the hypocrisy in the classic do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do approach, posit experts cited in the story, who warn that by giving in and diverting an impatient child with a digital device, parents are undermining their kids’ developing abilities to self-soothe.
I think we all can agree that we want our kids to be able to count on their inventory of inner intellectual and emotional resources to rescue them from boredom, rather than conditioning them to reach for a shot of electronic stimulation as a method of extraction and escape.
Daydreaming is one of childhood’s greatest pleasures and privileges, all those long hours spent in reflection and introspection, private thoughts fueled by pure imagination.
How much is missed when solitary thought is replaced by the latest rigorously marketed digital mind-meld?
Don’t want your child to smoke? Experts can agree about the value in not smoking then — a good example is one of the best things you can do for your child.
So, who among us will be the first to put down her iPhone, even for a little while, and stop tweeting?
Tell us, do you limit the amount of time allowed on digital devices in your house?