Monday, June 6, 2011

Does social media stop us from being good parents??????

I have been recently thinking a lot lately about the impact technology has on our lives especially with children. I was watching extreme parenting with Super Nanny Jo Frost and she was conducting a sleep experiment. The children in the first week were allowed to stay up as late as they liked and in the second week they had to go to bed at 7:30.

It was the second week that had me intrigued. All the electronic devices were removed form the bedroom so they had nothing to keep them awake and all they could do was go to sleep. They were not even allowed to play with them once they got home from school. What I found interesting was the amount of electronic devices these kids had. Mobile phones, laptops, wiis, PS2, ipods or mp3 players. These kids spent more time on these devices than they did with their own families.

So that led me to my next thought. Are we using all these devices so we do not have to engage with our own children? So they are babysat in some way.? I understand the world we live in is very digital but are we teaching our kids to never have a real relationship unless it is with some device as a medium? Are we so distracted in our own lives and by the internet that we can no longer really engage with them any more either?

As the children were no longer allowed to play with these devices. The families began spending more time together. The board games came out, books came out, homework was done, and funnily enough the families all said how nice it was to play with their children and engage with them rather than them locking themselves away in their rooms playing the computer or texting friends or both.

I know I am guilty of this. I know how often I am facebook throughout the day. Seeing what everyone else is up to, using it to engage with other people. Checking my emails constantly to see if anyone has commented on my status update. Checking my husband's twitter page and seeing where he is at or how far away he is from home. Conversing with him on twitter. The list goes on. I find I’m almost need to constantly check it and if one of my children need me or come to ask me something I’m like wait I’m on facebook instead of really making her important I make the internet important. I'm almost annoyed if I am interrupted and writing this down does not make me very proud as a parent but if im honest enough I don't think I am the only parent who does this in some shape or form.

So do we as a western culture allow these devices to come into our lives because we are bored and addicted. We want to engage with everyone and feel like we are important to someone but not to the people we should be important to? Are my kids learning from me that social media is far more important. Engaging with a screen all the time. Please don't get me wrong I am not against social media at all or using technology or the TV to teach my child but when I am using the devices as a form of escapement and entertainment rather than doing what I should be doing or brushing them aside to finish a facebook status or checking my email and not engaging with the kids as I should I wonder where you draw the line? When is it an addiction to escape boredom? Are our children learning to be addicts because that's what they have been taught as kids. Do we as a western culture find it hard to be in the present moment and therefore don't want to engage or can't engage because we have forgotten how to socialise? I think it is hard all the time to engage with our kids. They are in the present moment playing pretend, dressing up or playing with a toy. I find it hard at times to engage with her and 'play pretend' in fact if I was honest I don't do pretend play very well. I am happy to watch pretend play but I don't like participating (even though sometimes I do) and the play is not very mentally stimulating to me, which makes it even harder to do but there are times when I try to engage with her and yet at the back of my mind I’m thinking must check my facebook page or send an email so it is not real time with me because I am distracted.

I know as a stay-at-home-mum that sometimes the only other adult you will speak to is your significant other for the whole day and I understand what facebook and twitter are to a SAHM a life line in many respects. It allows you to engage with other's have an adult conversation without leaving the house but if we are constantly on facebook and twitter or texting we have something always gnawing for our attention and not just our children who need to know that at some point during the day when your little beep on your phone goes off that you are not going to run and dive for it while in the middle of something with them.

Just something to think about. Please feel free to comment.


  1. very well said. how about only online when your little one is asleep or in school?

  2. I don't think when the kids are asleep or in school is a problem. You are not needed by them at that point in time. I think it is a problem when we allow social media to rule when we are with our children and we are continuing to update every 5 minutes or checking emails or text messages all the time and we push more important stuff aside and drop everything for a beep beep. Social media is a huge part of our lives now and I have a facebook page but when it becomes the be all and end all and that is how our children see us interacting all the time I don't know how good that is??? but that is just me.