Are You A Distracted Parent?

Social MediaThese past days, I have been trying to recall how our parents and grandparents did it without smartphones. Let’s enumerate quickly shall we?

They used snail mail and telegrams to connect; they used landline phones, beepers, and bulky cellphones to keep in touch; and they waited for radio announcements and the TV news hour to get the latest headlines. Looking at this, I say, they get information only on certain times of the day, and not all day.

Today, all these can be accessed through our phones anytime we want! And it’s really great and convenient that we have up-to-the-minute news and traffic situation on Twitter, instant messages on Viber, hourly life updates on Facebook and Instagram, it’s all fun!

You even know when people took a bath, what towel color they used, their most recent cuts, scrapes, and bruises, how the passenger next to them looks like, their first tricycle or MRT ride, what’s cooking, what they’re wearing (or what they’re not wearing), and the list goes on. If you check daily, you won’t miss out on anything! There’s no need to wait for the postman to know how our friends and relatives are doing. We may not need to see each other anymore actually. LOL.

But just like any other great thing, it also has its downsides. And if you are regularly online, you must have noticed it too.

It can be utterly addicting!

I didn’t realize until recently, that I am too updated on other people’s lives (even their pet’s lives) that I’m starting to miss out on my own.

I would often hear Mia say:

“Mommy, look! Mommy, look! Mommy, loooooooooook!”

She always tries to grab my attention from my phone.


And that’s her follow-up complaint when she doesn’t succeed.

She hates it when I’m on my phone. So when we are together, I’ll put it down for a while.

But in just a minute or two, I’ll be tempted to check Facebook again or Twitter or the news or the latest gossips.

I can’t stop picking it up.

I cannot sit and do nothing. I cannot wait and stay still without browsing.

She wants my full attention and sometimes, I can’t even give it. Yes I’m there, yes I’m right beside her, but I catch myself checking for alerts and messages every 5 or 10 minutes.

I am hooked and it’s hurting my child. 🙁

A few nights ago, while we were having dinner, we all of a sudden started checking our phones. As I was sending a message, I heard Mia hum a tune while all our thumbs were busy. Our eyes were glued on our screens and our heads were all bowed down. I had a moment of realization and I felt awful. This isn’t what dinner should look like for her… What was so important that couldn’t wait?..

I wanted to kick the habit right then and there but it can’t be that quick, can it? And this is a sad picture that I often see in restaurants too. We have become distracted parents. We don’t want our children to get addicted to gadgets but we are the ones spending too much time on our devices.

It actually took one bold move from my strong-willed child to pull me out of this trap.

The other day while we were in bed, she suddenly stood, took my phone, and placed it on my desk – far away from me.

I was taken aback by this move. She literally – took – it – away.

I guess she was protecting our quality time. Mommy might pick it up anytime soon she probably thought.

And you know what, it worked. And I have to thank her for that. We played, laughed, cuddled, and hid under the sheets. I had fun. And she had what she needed. My full presence.

It was in some way, a wake up call.

A reminder that they are probably waiting all day for “Daddy time” or “Mommy time”, and they deserve to have us.

So inviting as it may seem to click on every notification, I am reminding myself that messages can wait and the latest buzz feeds can be read at a later time.

And though I am embracing technology and acknowledging that social media is now part of our lives, I am also practicing to ignore and unplug a few hours a day. I don’t really need to know every single detail of everybody’s life all the time. Our parents didn’t have any of these and they still had friends. We all grew up fine.

Note to self: Be more present. Unplug.

How are you with your phone? Have you been guilty of this too? Tell us in the comments below.