Think Twice on How Your Phone Usage is Perceived!

Phone Use…How is it Being Interpreted?

Growing up, my dad would sit at the dining room table, reading the paper and having his breakfast, usually a glass of orange juice and peanut butter toast. As I got older, I became more involved. We would talk about some of the stories, I would steal the comic section. I’d peek over his shoulder and read the headlines or sometimes just steal a whole section! It was a typical thing during my childhood, seeing an adult sitting at the table reading a paper. But nobody does it anymore. Now people read the news on their phones. I’ve mentioned before, that we have a no phone rule at the table, so where do you draw the line…no phones at the table period? Try to explain the difference of content to our young child and how videos and Elmo’s alphabet game aren’t allowed but what mommy does is, it feels hypocritical.

To avoid having my phone out at breakfast, I usually try to have a morning coffee and catch up on Social Media and news later in the morning if we’re at home. I might be at the table or I might be on the couch. Either way, if I have my phone or iPad out, my son will compete for my attention. If I’m cleaning up the kitchen, he’s usually happy to play on his own, but not when I’m using technology. This makes me feel guilty about using technology around him, which, at the end of the day, parents need to do.

When we’re searching for preschools, we’re looking online, not reading a dozen pamphlets. Enrolling children in activities is now done online. When we’re shopping, we’re looking at a website, not flyers or catalogues. If our child is sick, we don’t get out our “Dr. Mom Encyclopedia”, we go to medical sites. But how can we differentiate sitting around on our phone, killing time texting and Facebooking over actually doing regular, daily tasks that are now done online. More importantly, how can we demonstrate that to our children???

I think I’m old fashion and when I see someone on a phone or tablet, I automatically think texting or “playing”, errands and must dos and errands don’t usually come to mind, although I use my phone for these things all the time!

A perfect example of this is church. If you attend church, look around your congregation and note how many people follow along with an actual Bible and how many people use a Bible App! The other week I looked around and it actually appeared as though people had tuned the pastor out and were playing on their phones! Of course they weren’t, they were following along, but again, it’s my old school perception of phones.

So what’s the answer??? …I wish I had it! As you know, I try to limit my use of technology around my son as much as I can because I know he picks up on it, but at the end of the day, I have stuff I need to do…for my son…which needs to be done on a computer or tablet and unfortunately, with him napping less and less I’m not able to limit these “technology errands” to nap time.

I try to tell me son what I’m doing…”mommy’s shopping” and he can sit on my lap at the computer and we talk about all the things we see in the pictures…which makes it a very slow process but at least he understands and is involved. I still put him first and if he asks me to play, I tell him what I’m doing and explain I will play when I’m finished (but of course he doesn’t always want to wait!). I don’t do these things while we’re out besides bringing up an online flyer for a price match or something quick. But unfortunately, I don’t know the answer, I don’t know how to set an example for my son to not always have a piece of technology on hand when that is the way of the world. I guess, like everything else, the key is to be mindful and aware of our actions.

Stranger Danger ⚠️

I have such a friendly son and I love it! I love that he rarely plays shy, I love that he gives my friends and other kids big hugs, he even hugs the iPad when saying goodbye to his grandparents. But he doesn’t have a lot of boundaries. This week alone he ran up to a girl in McDonalds and tried to hug her because he liked her jacket. He went over to another girl in nursery wearing a buttoned cardigan, said “buttons” and than proceeded to unbutton her shirt. But he also played nicely and appropriately with a little girl at the library. I love that my son didn’t inherit my shy gene but I also worry how inappropriate it is to start undressing strangers.

I think it’s important to teach your children to be friendly and sociable so I always encourage my son to wave and say hello to people. A few weeks ago we were walking downtown and a homeless man had a stuffed animal and was getting him to wave at my little guy and I made sure we both waved back because I want him to be friendly and respectful to everyone. But how do you teach a toddler boundaries?

I was talking about this with some family friends and we agreed how important it is to encourage children to be friendly and outgoing but just as important to teach them that you only talk to strangers when you’re with an adult that you know. But is this really a concept that my child who isn’t even two can actually understand? There’s got to be something I can do to help him learn this valuable lesson?! 

So while I beamed with pride at my son smiling on Santa’s lap while most of the other children at the mall screamed this past Christmas, I couldn’t help but worry how easy Santa had won him over. But I told myself, I’m here, he can see me, he knows this is safe. So now I casually mention, mommy and daddy are here, go say hello, just so he starts associating our presence with speaking to strangers. Now I just need to show him that hugging a man you barely know and trying to give him an open mouth kiss is NOT how we greet people…without discouraging his friendly and loving personality. I always encourage him to wave and say hi instead, but he just can’t resist, my kid is a hugger.

If you can’t fight it embrace it! I’m telling him to ask first, sometimes he starts by touching their arm. I still encourage waving and saying hello when meeting someone. When we are with people we know I tell him to say goodbye to his ‘friends’ or give his ‘friend’ a hug, I try to make it specific. It’s still a work in progress but it’s hard. I love how outgoing he is, hopefully over time and with practice, he will learn how to be more appropriate. A hugger with boundaries and social skills!