OPINION – I love summer. The kids are out of school and all I can think about is planning fun outdoor activities to spend time with them and enjoy the great weather.
As I look around, iPads, iPhones and iPods are everywhere, attached to all of us like an extra limb – the limb we didn’t know we needed until now. It is time to make a change and get back to basics because my phone seems to be taking over my life.
I do not want an “iSummer”- full of technology and little interaction.
I want to make memories with my kids, not engage in mindless hours of chatter over texting day after day. I want my kids to know I am there, in the moment and not constantly reaching for my phone every five minutes and becoming distracted. They need eye-to-eye contact and validation.
Our cell phones are not just phones anymore. They are handheld video games, radios, GPS tracking devices and a sea of unimportant emails, from some people we do not even know. Forget about real feelings and deep conversation, now we have short, cute texts we send to each other to fill our days, as if to say, “Sorry, I cannot spend the time to dial your number and talk to you – but here are five words and a smiley face so you know I think you are important.”
We can’t eat dinner for an hour, play at the pool or go to church without a cellular device in our hands. It seems as vital as the air we breathe. Are cell phones taking over our lives?
Do we need our phones 24 hours a day?
Parenting in the 21st century has surely become the distracted parental era. In fact, we are so distracted now with our devices, that we have laws against driving and texting.
For those of us who do not excel at multi-tasking, New York and Arkansas are trying to pass laws against texting and walking. Yes, walking. Now, it seems as though the law feels the need to protect us from our own stupidity of distracted texting to keep us from texting “LMAO” to a friend as we fall into the fountain at the mall or trip over the curb into oncoming traffic.
When I was growing up, we actually had to race home to get a phone call and the cord was attached to the phone. I could not even reach the hallway, let alone oncoming traffic. I didn’t talk long because I had things to do and couldn’t stand in the kitchen for hours just to have a conversation. We spent little time on the phone.
Times are different now.
Over 82 percent of Americans own cell phones. That is a staggering number of preoccupied people roaming around playing Angry Birds and discovering new apps to make their high tech lives easier. Over 75 percent of teens ages 12-17 now own their own cell phone and one third of those teens each sends over 100 texts per day, 3,000 texts per month.
Parents are so distracted that it seems the only way to keep our kids busy is to buy them cell phones too, to distract them from distracting us. Family vacations now seem like bliss when everyone is quietly absorbed with their electronic device and not speaking to one another. What happened to conversations and travel games in the car as we rode to our destination? Those were fun memories when I was growing up. Now I find myself telling everyone to be quiet so I can concentrate on my email messages.
My cell phone should not be stealing my parental joy.
How many times have I been looking at my phone while my kids do something incredible and give them a bland “uh-huh,” a fake smile and barely a glance away from my phone? Too many to count.
How many times have I been on the phone when I was dropping off one of my kids and realized I did not even say goodbye to them as they shut the car door?
We all think we are so important that the world will cease to exist without our constant participation. How many times have I thought the world would crumble without an immediate response to a text, email or a phone call? Two or three days without your phone will truly show you how unimportant you really are.
I vote for a truce this summer. Put down the cell phone and walk away.
Dinners, Sundays, church and family outings are now exempt from the cell phone.
This summer I pledge to spend quality time with my family. I want to make sure there are plenty of times that I leave my phone at home. Will two hours at the park make or break my career? No. Will the two hours at the park I spend playing with my kids be my next great mom memory, not only for me, but also for my kids? Maybe it will.
I want an old fashioned summer where the kids wow me with their newest skateboard tricks and pool dives. Summer used to be full of laughing, talking, experiencing, climbing, hiking and fun; and none of it required cell phone accessibility. You know, back when summer did not start with an “i”.
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.