8-10: How to Keep from Being Bitten

Apparently having Mom all to themselves for those four hours was something they really looked forward to.

How to Keep from Being Bitten

by Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti

“Mama! Mama!” the little 2- or 3-year-old kept repeating while he and his mother were waiting for an elevator. When he didn’t get a response, he started tapping her leg. “Wait a second,” the mother responded. However, one second turned into several, and finally in desperation, the child attempted to bite her leg in order to get her attention!1

What was the mother doing that was so important that she couldn’t respond to her child?

She was texting.

If you’re recently married and thinking about when to have children, or if you’re a new parent and thinking about how you’re going to help your infant accept Christ and become a productive member of the church and society, then you might want to think about how parental use of technology could affect your child.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sherry Turkle has been doing just that. Through the Initiative on Technology and Self, Dr.Turkle and her associates conducted 300 interviews over five years. These interviews show that children who must compete with their parent’s use of technological devices experience “feelings of hurt, jealousy and competition.”2

Dr. Turkle states that “over and over, kids raised the same three examples of feeling hurt and not wanting to show it when their mom or dad would be on their devices instead of  paying attention to them: at meals, during pickup after either school or an extracurricular activity, and during sports events.”3

The Initiative on Technology and Self is only one of a handful of studies being done on how persistent use of technology by parents affects children. Further studies may draw varying conclusions. However, most child development specialists will agree that “engaged parenting—talking and explaining things to children, and responding to their questions—remains the bedrock of early childhood learning.”4

One day, Meredith Sinclair, a blogger in the state of Illinois (U.S.A.) and frequent visitor to a multitude of social media Web sites, decided to establish a technology ban for four hours each evening. Her children’s response was one of joy. Her 12-year-old son shouted, “Yes!”5 Apparently having Mom all to themselves for those four hours was something they really looked forward to.

So after the wedding glitz and glamour melts into real life and you begin to think about having children, consider Solomon’s words in Proverbs 22:6—“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray” (NRSV). One wonders what issues young parents were dealing with then. Today, however, training children in the right way just might mean that parents will want to spend less time with technology and more time with their children.6

____________
1. Julie Scelfo, “The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In,” The New York Times©, June 9, 2010 (accessed July 22, 2010).
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. For a way to actually spend quality time with your children on the Web, CQ recommends the following site where young children and their parents can watch animated Sabbath School lessons together. Many parents and children have reported to us how fun and instructive doing so can be. The link is: www.gracelink.net/podcast.