This was originally written for my regular Generation Next Column. It has a handful of comments there that you might like to read.
My 5-year-old son attends swimming lessons each and every Sunday. It’s a busy pool with multiple classes going on at once.
During lessons parents sit around the pool and watch their offspring splash around, offering words of encouragement, the occasional ‘thumbs up’ and many smiles of pride.
You can picture it can’t you? It was pretty much the same as when we learnt to swim… way back when.
However if you’ve actually taken a child to swimming lessons recently you’d know that the picture I’ve painted is actually a fake.
In my experience, parents aren’t offering words of encouragement, thumbs up or even smiles. They’re staring at a screen reading banal Facebook updates, answering ‘important’ emails that simply couldn’t wait until Monday or just surfing mindlessly.
I wonder why?
Have we really convinced ourselves that we are that busy that we can’t devote 30mins of our attention to our kids? Heck even 15mins would be good!
How many of these parents have to lie when their kids ask them, “Did you see me?”
How many of these kids finish a lap to look for a thumbs up, only to find their parents’ thumbs otherwise engaged?
I know this might seem like a trivial matter, but I wonder if it’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg?
I’d be interested to hear what you think… am I worrying about nothing?
Category: Social Commentary
Tagged: Doodles, Generation Next, parenting, social media, technology
Hi Dan…just what I have wondered when I watch young mums pushing their kids along with half an eye on the footpath and the other scanning their phones. Distracted parenting seems such a shame and I think we do need to look at the impact of this.
Thanks for commenting Di.. appreciate it! 🙂 I like the phrase “Distracted Parenting…” I wonder with the ever increasing influence of tech/information are we all in a constant state of distraction?
I couldn’t agree more. I walk to work between 5:30 and 6:00 am. I am astounded by the amount of parents out pushing a pram with one hand and texting with the other. Who could possibly have that much to say at 5:30 in the morning? The outcome of this behaviour is readily seen when you see their children at cafes affixed to an ipad, oblivious to the world around them.
Hmmm… Kids in Cafes… Kitty Flanagan does a wonderful stand-up routine about kids in cafes… needless to say it’s not suitable for this forum! It is an increasingly common sight though… kids glued to one screen or another…
My hubbie and I were just having this discussion last night as we watched my daughter’s swimming lesson. We both commented on how most other parents had their heads buried in their phones. They didn’t even notice when their child looked over at them….so sad. I actually don’t think it’s trivial at all and to me it feels like it’s adding to the disconnectedness in some families. I think sometimes it’s important to be fully in the moment and if you’re there to watch your child learn to swim…then be there. I know that I love to watch my child learn to swim and I share her joy when she accomplishes that one small thing.
Thanks for taking the time to comment Mel!
Shared experiences are what it’s all about… I think the time will come soon enough when kids won’t want you there… so enjoy it while you can I reckon!