I was in New York City recently and I missed capturing a picture. It wasn’t about the city; it was about a little girl around 3 years old who caught my attention. She was walking out of a café with her daddy, holding a doll in one hand and tucked under her other tiny arm was an iPad!
Shortly after I returned home, I saw something similar – it’s now an older girl about eight years old walking with her dad. No doll but both arms clutching an iPad. There was this other instance when I saw a mom with her two kids in a restaurant. The mom was seated across the table facing her kids. But all three of them were just totally engrossed with their respective gadgets. They were together but each one busy playing their own game!
The advent of Nintendo DS, Play Station Portable (PSP), smart phones and iPads or tablets has definitely revolutionalized the way families connect with one another. The amazing capability for these gadgets to entertain and keep one occupied is simply unbeatable. So captivating are these gadgets that any child or adult can become admittedly covetous without them.
Having observed many families and my own, I’ve also noticed that family bonds are not strengthened with more gadgets. It doesn’t take long for tired parents to realize that it is so much easier to have these gadgets babysit their kids. After all, what these gadgets can do is often so much more engaging. Switch the gadget to an educational mode and it can teach their kids what they have neither the time nor energy to do.
The truth is that it takes effort and know-how to connect meaningfully. With a gadget, you just buy it and it’ll perform its function. Slowly but surely, the addictive nature of these gadgets can take over; causing us to be so preoccupied with them at the expense of engaging with one another meaningfully. There’s little talking and listening and we may be present physically but absent in every sense of the word.
A trait of a healthy family is one that plays together. They schedule play times onto the calendar; they make time to have fun as a family. Just as lifelong friendships don’t develop accidentally but as a result of spending time together regularly, connecting with our kids is no different. In fact, our face time with them – real-time communication with eye contact and body language – is even more critical in today’s virtual, digital age and its myriad of gadgets.
Remember that song we used to sing many years ago when we were kids? That goes: The more we get together, together, together. The more we get together, the happier we’ll be!
Times have changed but the human heart has not.It longs for real, heart to heart connection, especially in the family. This is one thing that gadgets can never do.