I just read an article, “The child, the tablet and the developing mind” on New York Times’ website. It attempts to offer education on tablets and their effect on young children. While the scientific information may be accurate, I’m still quite enraged by the stand alone interjection by the author, Nick Bilton, which reads: “Parents who have little choice but to hand over their iPad can at least control what a child does on those devices.” Little choice? Way to rob the parents of their ability to make conscious choices! While this is written by a man who’s family status I know nothing of, I wonder how he wanted this sentence to be perceived. Is he being supportive of his sister, who he writes about handing over 2 tablets to her children so they, (the adults) could eat in peace at a restaurant but, then feels guilty for pacifying them with electronics? Does he truly see parents as being so lacking in creative resources, they must bow deferentially to the screen age? Maybe this touched a nerve since just yesterday at a pharmacy, a man sat down to wait for his order to be filled and immediately pulled out 2 electronic devices for his 5 and 7 year old children to play with, while he played with his own device, and none of them engaged with each other for the next 20 minutes. It was as if there were 3 little planets, all in their own orbit.
I see screens mounted on strollers, babies grabbing at iphones and parents getting mad when they are thrown across the room.
My son plays video games, and plays on my phone, and plays on a Nook at my parent’s house. My daughter is way less interested in all of it. They both watch television, and on occasion, more than the recommended daily limit. This all counts as screen time. I limit it. I choose what he gets to play, or what she gets to watch and how long, and when. At the table, when we are eating, be it casually at the counter or at a formal family dinner, like this past Easter Sunday with 10 people, there are no electronics for anyone! Phones are set aside, if they want to contribute to the conversation they are welcome to and encouraged to do so, if they want to mess around, they will be reminded of what is expected of them, and if there is adult conversation happening,(which means over their head not inappropriate), then they may sit quietly and ponder their navels or ask questions to understand what is being said, and they will learn to accept it when they are told it is “adult conversation”. There have been many times over the past 9 and a half years where I have been out of the loop on conversations at the table because I was instructing my children on what to do, how to act, etc. Guess what, that’s my job! I have turned down many meals at many places because I know what sort of environment my children are able to be in and for what amount of time. Contrary to popular belief, not every restaurant welcomes children, and they shouldn’t feel like they have to cater to family dining. I’m not offended by them at all, to me that means I look forward to a date night with my husband there, where I hope other families have been just as respectful.
Do you have similar rules about etiquette, different? I would love to hear about them. It takes a village, people!