My mother was on the phone again. I got up from watching my Beatles movie, which I had taped on actual videotape, and scooted under the long, curly white kitchen phone cord. She kept on talking, so I changed the lyrics to the Beatles’ “It’s All Too Much” to “You Talk Too Much,” and sang it aloud.
Either she didn’t notice, or she was ignoring her wise-ass teenaged daughter for a few moments of connection with a friendly adult.
I get it. Now I get it.
So when Time magazine ran “Why Cell Phones Are Bad for Parenting,” I was interested, both as a parent and as a formerly wise-ass teenager.
In the article, Dominique Browning says that cell phones, simply by not being tethered to the kitchen wall are “handy tools for avoidance, and it’s our children who are getting the bad end of the deal.” She says that parents on their cell phones aren’t actually with their kids, and it’s time we all break the cell phone habit.
I confess that my cell phone is nearly always by my side, largely because media people work fast. If I don’t check my phone, I may miss the chance to be on the Today Show or interviewed by the Associated Press for instance. Or I may miss the chance to take funny photos from the bathtub:
And who wants to miss opportunities like that?
But I’m also aware that when my kids talk to me, I need to put down my phone and look them in the eyes. It’s a simple courtesy with a big lesson for my kids, like teaching them to turn off the TV after they watch a show instead of waiting to see what comes on next or leaving it on as background noise.
I still talk, text and post on my cell phone, even when the kids are around. It’s part of my livelihood. Plus, the cat continues to provide great photo opps I just can’t pass up.
Yet this time (unlike last time), Time magazine got it right. Cell phones can indeed be bad for parenting. As we add Instagram and Pinterest and whatever’s next to our list of apps on our cell phones, we need to remember that the kids are watching what we’re doing, and, as they get older, doing what they see.
Cell phones don’t have to be bad for parenting. You just have to know when to put yours down.
Here are some tips on how to raise tech savvy kids, which I shared with CafeMom’s Kristen Chase:
Tell us: Are cell phone really bad for parenting?