It's so pervasive, that to most people it doesn't seem bizarre.
I see it on the East Side, like I see it on the West. Whether they are college educated, or couldn't get through high school. Whether they are affluent, or scrape by with the help of food stamps.
I see it at the park, at the store, at the hospital where I work, at my daughter's school.
And it breaks my heart to see it.
Mothers and fathers, oblivious to their children's attempts at interaction, because they are too busy, typing away on their devices. Physically present but mentally, and what is worse, emotionally far removed. Within touching distance of the child, but so self-absorbed in attending to their electronic significant other, that they could as well be behind a wall.
"Mommy, mommy! Can we go to the monkey bars so I can show you what I can do?"
"Mommy is busy right now, but you go ahead and I will watch from here."
"Please, mom? I want you to come with me!"
"I told you I am busy! Remember what we agreed on if mommy is busy? Little Johnny has to wait."
Little Johnny is too small to know how to argue with that. By now he has been tricked into so many "agreements", that he has started to doubt his own intelligence. Furthermore, how to make his case, when mom/dad won't even move their eyes away from that device, to look at him?
At least Little Johnny is old enough now to walk himself to the play structure. But can you imagine how disheartening, and confusing it must be for a baby, desperately flailing and babbling, trying to get our attention, while we ignore him; our eyes constantly glued to a phone?
Your child is smarter than your phone. He knows what he needs to thrive, and it's not something you will find in any of your gadgets.
He can't explain it, but Little Johnny was programmed by mother nature (a pro at it, with millions of years of experience), to look for the eyes of his parents when in need of reassurance, and comfort. Without these, he feels all alone in the world.
No child can reach his full potential without at least one adult in his life fully invested, and delighted with his presence. It's called being connected. But this connection cannot form and grow, unless we remove the things that get in its way. Starting with the electronic devices we are so addicted to, and we now feel we can't live without.
It will not be easy to wean ourselves from them. But we must try. The smaller the steps we take, the more successful we are likely to be. Let's start by leaving our so called smart phone in the car when we walk little LittleJohnny to his classroom. And then, with complete attention and delight, let him show what he did in class yesterday, or how good he has gotten at swinging from one end of the monkey bars, to the other.