There’s been a recurring feature in the news the last few days, and it seems everyone wants a piece of it. It’s called the ‘curse of the screen’, and relates recent research which has suggested that ‘mobile addict parents are guilty of child neglect’.
The reason I, too, have decided to jump on the bandwagon, is because my initial assumption of what the said research was trying to demonstrate was painfully minimised on reading the accompanying stories. You see, the reason ‘mobile addict parents’ are guilty of child neglect is quite simply, because they are setting a bad example. Or so the reports would have us believe.
So as phrases such as “benign neglect” and “passive parenting” dominate the headlines, we are told that the real danger of ‘mobile addict parents’ is that they are training their kids to do the same – thus creating a lifelong dependency on screens that they, fortunately/unfortunately, however you look at it, only picked up in adulthood.
Parents need to “regain control” of their households, the psychologist behind the warning, Dr Aric Sigman said, claiming that parent’s behaviour can play a key role in determining how children will treat technology.
All genuine concerns, I’m sure, but it’s not the first thing that crosses my mind.
Author of Toxic Childhood, Sue Palmer gets a little closer to the crux of the issue, retelling what a midwife recently told her in that it is becoming common for mothers in labour to text or post updates to their friends from the delivery room. “They are not even really present at the children’s births any more”, she said.
But I think it’s time to stop pussy-footing around with phrases such as “benign neglect” and “passive parenting”, and start being honest about the true dangers our technology addiction poses to our children.
Sitting on a wall over the weekend, my husband pointed a truly shocking sight out to me. Walking past was a man listening to music, a woman frantically typing away on her phone, and a young child, trailing behind and almost walking into a tree. Now, I couldn’t tell you what the relation between the man and woman was – if any – or how the child was connected to them. I can only assume he did belong to at least one of them, otherwise my example has just got a whole lot more worrying.
“Please promise me you’ll never be that type of parent”, my husband said to me. And I’d like to think that I wouldn’t be. But unless we start acknowledging the more pressing dangers of mobile addiction, I dread to think how many children will be left behind.