As a mommy, I belong to an obscene amount of mommy groups, blogs, Facebook groups, forums, listserves and the like, where people discuss anything and everything baby. One of the hottest topics lately has been which simulator phone or laptop to purchase for your child. No matter how many toys there can be in a room, if a cell phone, laptop or remote control is left unattended, it is, within seconds, swiped by a baby that’s crawling around. I have seen babies trample other babies, crawl over their favourite toys, books and snacks just for a peek at an iPhone. The toy industry has obviously jumped on this new phenomenon to make us buy our children colourful phones that sing the ABC’s, vibrate and say your child’s name and laptops that tell kids stories and show them videos.
Most of the complaints about these products are somewhere in the vicinity of “it just doesn’t look like mine.” And it’s true. Most children are not interested in the Fisher Price phone or the Leap Frog computer, simply because it is not Mommy’s. I happen to have an array of these types of toys, and I can assure you that my children would immediately toss any of them if I happened to leave my phone on the floor. I’ve even given my kids old phones, that still work to play with and they were obviously rejected. Now why do you think that is?
I don’t know about my 2 year-old, but my baby for sure doesn’t know or understand what Mommy’s phone can really do. She doesn’t care for the instant e-mail notifications, access to Facebook, youTube or Mommy’s blog. She probably doesn’t even know that there are games that can be played on Mommy’s phone or pictures that can be seen of her and her brothers. She doesn’t know that in the palm of her hand, she has access to the digital world. But she still NEEDS to have it as soon as she sees it in my hand. “Why is she so obsessed with my phone??” I think in my head. Oh. And here comes the harsh part – it’s because I am so obsessed with my phone.
My phone is my sidekick. It never leaves my side. I carry with me everywhere. If it was waterproof, I would take it into the shower. I check my e-mail and Facebook at least 20 times on any given day, sometimes more. P, my almost one year old, just wants to do what she sees me do all day long – hold my phone and push buttons on it. When we play, I hold my phone and when she comes to get it, I hide it. She gets upset until I distract her with something else, so that I can pull my phone back out without her noticing. This is a sad state of affairs.
I try to ra·tion·al·ize [rational ~ lies] it. I need to have my phone on me all the time in case there is an emergency. What if my kids’ counsellor call and I need to come pick them up from camp right away? What if my family needs me? What if I get into a car accident and need to call 911? What if there is a national disaster and I need to know about it right away?! (Totally just checked the Huffington Post app to make sure nothing crazy is happening in the world.) The reality is that none of these things happen often enough for me to be without a lifeline to the internet for a few hours. What ends up happening when the next Hurricane isn’t about to hit my house in the next 10 minutes, is I text my friends and tell them how cute my baby is and try to make plans for the afternoon. I “like” pictures and Facebook status updates – usually about other people’s babies – and read a few blogs.
Lesson learned: What I have to come to terms with is that I am not the President of the United States. I am not a secretary of defense. I am not a CEO of a company. I am not a stock broker on Wall Street. There is probably nothing out there that needs my immediate attention, well except for the baby that I’m ignoring by checking my e-mail and texting my friends all day long. I am by no means planning on giving my phone up, but maybe putting it on a shelf or in my pocket when I am with my kids. Showing children that they are more important than a device, gives them an enormous boost of self-confidence. We all hate when we are talking to someone who is simultaneously checking their e-mail on their phone. It’s so rude. So instead of buying our kids fake look-a-like phones and gadgets, let’s give our kids the respect that they deserve and put away our phones – at least during play time.
Ps – who just read this on their smart phone?