HealthJ & J's Gibberish: It is Valentine’s Day.  Show the love… and get off your phones

J & J's Gibberish: It is Valentine’s Day.  Show the love… and get off your phones

J & J's Gibberish: It is Valentine’s Day.  Show the love… and get off your phones

One mother's weekly journey in raising her special needs children. 

There is absolutely no question that technology and devices are taking a toll on human interactions and connections.  Go to a restaurant and you will see couples sitting there both on their phones ignoring the other.  Or better yet I saw a family at a table and all four of them were on their devices. It made me laugh and cry all at once and take a look at my own behaviour and that of my kids. Sadly, we have been known to be similar.

Dr. Michael Cheng, a child psychiatrist at CHEO, and I were talking about this once and he told me a story that goes along the lines that back in the day, Steve Jobs told his engineers to create a phone that he could use to check emails on the can.  Yes the toilet.  Not the dinner table. 

Then I had a fascinating conversation with another CHEO child psychiatrist, about the still face experiment.  You may recall this from the 1970s where, in a scientific experiment, a mother looks at her baby in the face but remains expressionless.  The effects were astounding as the baby tried multiple times to connect with the mother but without any result. The baby eventually gives up and becomes despondent and withdrawn.

I remember reading about this as a young parent and was horrified.

Flash forward to today. Guess what?  Using our phones and technology around our kids and spouses for that matter, not just babies, is having the same effect. When the Dr. told me that, I was astounded and yet it makes sense.

So here we are with disconnected families and partnerships where everyone feels they are taking a back seat to phones.  Think about it.  It is absolutely crazy.  Our kids think they are below our phones in terms of priorities.  

Googling it you will find terms like “technoference” used to describe the phenomenon of “everyday interruptions in interpersonal interactions or time spent together because of digital and mobile technology devices.”  Or “technology-based interruptions”. They are causing kids to withdraw today from their parents, feeling they can’t compete with their parents’ devices.

It is true.  I have to admit that my kids are always bugging me to get off my phones (I begrudgingly admit I have two) as much as I am bugging them to get off theirs.  I just never realized that in fact it is damaging our relationships.

I started reading survey after survey, study after study on the internet, getting obsessed with the issue.  (How about the irony in that ?!! --- Reading about the very thing that is interfering with my relationship with my kids.) The evidence everywhere is bad.  Furthermore, kids aren’t getting enough nature, teachers are seeing behaviour issues in the classroom, and the list goes on.

So this Valentine’s Day, I am going to do something new.  I am going to sit down, take my kids out for a walk and get outdoors, and even tell them I love them face to face instead of telling them how I feel about them on Facebook.  Besides, they don’t even go on Facebook anymore.  That is soooo for old people.

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