The first iPhone only came on the market on June 29, 2007.
In the short time since then, we have been part of the greatest upheaval of social interaction since the telephone was initially invented, even more than the invention of the TV.
We are now constantly available, constantly interacting with everyone in our lives, and not just those that we are with at the time. We are at work when we are at home. We are with our friends when we are at home. We are with our family when we are at work.
The iPhone has impacted how we spend time together as a family, and parents are looking for guidance.
A Different Way Of Behaving
We have become addicted to this constant access and constant availability. As a result, we are on edge waiting for the next message, next phone call. We arrange our social life to allow for the instant development of plans for activities for the day. Plans can change at a moments notice. We have to have access all the time.
Our behaviour is the same as if we were addicted to a new drug. We have to have it. We would not choose the consequences of using it all the time, but we cannot help ourselves. The new technology has dragged us to a different way of behaving, and not by choice.
As an Obstetrician, being available all the time has been a burden of the job. I needed to be able to be reached at any time. Before the mobile phone, I would have to notify the labour ward exactly where I would be and what the landline number was then. I needed to curtail my social arrangements to be available for the labour ward when one of my patients was in labour.
I always had to keep an escape route from my activities with the family open and available. They knew and felt that slight degree of separation from them. However, that was for the matter of ‘a new life’ and had some value over and above other things, and was not everyday, all the time, daily interactions.
My behaviour was not the norm, and so was understood, if still resented by my children.
The Impact On Our Children
Nowadays, we are all on call in this way. We are all in a state of constant distraction, constantly with an escape route from the family….and they feel it. They resent it. We are at work when we check our work emails, not with the children. We are with our friends when we check our messages or facebook or other social media platforms, not with our children. We are forever separated from the ones we are with.
This relatively new form of technology has swept us along, seduced us with its access and availability. We are now socially disconnected from the people that are in front of us, and anxious, on edge all the time. If you doubt the impact, watch others interact at the playground, at cafes. If the parent is looking at their device when the child looks to him or her, you can see the palpable disappointment in their faces. You can see the resentment. You can see the disconnect.
A Challenge For Parents
This new technology is not good for us, or our children, if we let it seduce us and use us. We need to find a way to make this constant access be a useful tool for us in creating a better life not a worse one.
As far as parenting is concerned, the technology has many more disadvantages than advantages as we now use it. So my challenge to parents, is to modify the way we use it. Let us find a way of managing this technology that gives us access for the very important issues, but leaves us alone and with our children for anything other than those very important issues.
Is answering our friends call for a chat , a very important issue?…it takes us away form our child. It is interesting at the time. A bit of chit chat and gossip. A bit of support for a friend at the time. But does it have to intrude on that moment of being with your child?
Since we are with our child less and less as busy parents with both of us working and a lot more commitments in our lives, the actual time we are spending with our child is less and we are not even with them then!
We will have to find a way to ration our use of the mobile phone. Limit our availability, control our phone computer access and take control of our lives back from the communication company giants that have products that seduce us!
Like all addictions – alcohol, coffee, gambling – when we undertake them without controls, they control us, and our relationships suffer. The most important people in our lives suffer. WE have to take back control!
For our children sakes, and ours, we need to ‘be with our child, when we are with them.’