This post is outside the realm of my usual topics, but not really. First, some background: Last week while out walking I noticed several moms pushing strollers while staring down at their iPhones or BlackBerrys, madly texting. Their babies were wide awake, but the moms were engaged with someone else. As a parent and as a human, this worries me.
When my daughters were babies I talked to them all the time, well before they were verbal themselves. “Let’s have some oatmeal … OK, it’s time to put on these blue socks … Which foot first? Left? Right? … Honey, we’re going for a walk. Where’s your pink snowsuit and your mitts?” This is not Pulitzer material, but it’s communication that helped my children to learn to speak, to listen, to learn, and to feel cherished and loved.
This week in the New York Times, health columnist Jane Brody tackled this very topic. Her article begins:
I recently stopped to congratulate a young mother pushing her toddler in a stroller. The woman had been talking to her barely verbal daughter all the way up the block, pointing out things they had passed, asking questions like “What color are those flowers?” and talking about what they would do when they got to the park.
This is a rare occurrence in my Brooklyn neighborhood, I told her. All too often, the mothers and nannies I see are tuned in to their cell phones, BlackBerrys and iPods, not their young children.
Brody goes on to quote Randi Jacoby, a speech and language specialist in New York, who said: “Parents have stopped having good communications with their young children, causing them to lose out on the eye contact, facial expression and overall feedback that is essential for early communication development.
If you’re a parent, please think about this. You’ll have plenty of time to play with your iPhone when the kids go off to college!
Here is the article I saw today that sparked today’s post. “How to Miss a Childhood” was actually published in May 2012. Of course, I wonder if I would have been tempted by the lure of the iPhone when my children were younger. I’ll never know. For now, the house rule is “No mobile devices at the dinner table.”