The other day, I was at the park with my family. I happened to check my email once and my wife asked me to put my phone away. I obliged and then I saw a man sitting on a bench, ignoring his kids for the internet. It struck me- most likely without my wife here, I may be doing the very same thing. So I went ninja a snapped a photo so I could remind myself what it looks like to ignore my kids.
I don’t think we are alone. I believe that trolling the internet has spawned a ton of bad parenting. We as technologically savvy young adults are using every spare moment we have to troll the internet. We have our phones- gateways into the bliss of ignoring face-to-face relationships and embracing digitally pixelated ones instead. When we choose be an internet troll over spending time with our families, we’ve lost something rich. Sure, you can snap photos with your phones, but even that can be a cop-out from enjoying the moment. Your kids see your phone and not your face. They may like your phone but they need your face. The other day I was spending time with my 5-year old. We told him to call us out on our phone usage. He took the call! He said loudly: “Dad, get off your phone and spend time with me!” I was stunned. I placed my phone in my pocket and re-engaged with my boy.
We must not allow internet trolling to make us bad parents. No pixelated relationship is worth missing the flesh and bones; face-to-face ones. So, what can we do? Here are some options:
– When you go to the park, leave your phone in the car
– When at home, leave your phone in your room
– Tell your kids to call you out if you are ignoring them for your phone (they love this option)
– Delete the app that keeps you glued to your device
– Buy a real camera
– Tell your significant other to keep you accountable
– Engage your kids. Play with them. Sing with them. Dance with them. Imagine with them.
I confess that I need work in this area. I’ve gotten better, but I’m still not where I want to be. We can not allow the internet troll within us all to conquer the parent within us. My friend told me she believes technology to be the Anti-Christ. To a degree, I agree and would say it is the Anti-Parent as well. Many times I have chosen to troll rather than to engage. I regret those times because I gained nothing and lost moments with my precious family. Let’s Fight the man! May we not let the Troll win.
What are some other ways we can ignore the Troll and engage the family?