Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Is "Present Absence" Becoming the Accepted Norm?

Look at the scenario below - do you recognize yourself in this state of "present absence" with a child or grandchild (or spouse)?
...when parents focus on their digital world first — ahead of their children — there can be deep emotional consequences for the child, Steiner-Adair says. "We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don't matter, they're not interesting to us, they're not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them," she says. Read more here.

We're all guilty of it: being distracted, not living in the moment. And with the emergence of smartphones, we've got more distractions than ever - right in our pockets - making it harder than ever to pay attention to the people right in front of us and our important communal relationships!

"Ignoring family and friends who are in the room, while text messaging someone far away, is counterproductive to solid, healthy, relationships...The age of technological advancement has it's advantages, but it also has a dark side. When we spend the majority of our waking hours text messaging, talking on mobile phones, or becoming lost in cyberspace, we've become self-destructive, having succumbed to an addictive behavior that blocks true spiritual, social, and mental growth. Technology has it's place, but we must not allow it to become a god unto itself." -Abbot Tryphon (from his blog, The Morning Offering - here.)
As our society delves deeper and deeper into technology and social networking, I've been seeing lots of articles on how they're affecting our families, friendships, and attention spans.

I mean - my goodness! - even the smallest child can hold a computer right in his little baby hands.  Have a look at this recent (and rather alarming) article, "Infants unable to use toy building blocks due to iPad addiction" - here.

With the onset of smartphones, it seems that mobile cellular devices are invading our homes, classrooms, restaurants and theaters, as well as our offices and streets (even churches and campsites - is no space sacred enough for silence anymore?).

But in reality, the problem isn't the devices; it's us.  Because as with any kind of media - and especially "mobile media" - lack of control stems from addiction - and bad habits are hard to break.

Teens especially are struggling with this addiction to "instant connectivity and always-on devices" - as noted in this important article.

Stop the madness!
Name it...
Having trouble putting down the device?  A good place to start is by naming and recognizing the root of your addiction problem:  are you suffering from loneliness, boredom, laziness, procrastination, depression, anxiety...?  Guess what?  Compulsively checking your social media sites on your smartphone will only make it worse!

Be Mindful...
Don't think you can survive without having your phone on 24/7? We have to re-learn mindfulness.
The goal of mindfulness is to be in the moment, when you're doing something. Instead of letting your mind ruminate or compulsively checking your cell phone, work on training your focus onto what you're doing -- if you're eating just eat, try to taste everything...From "Your Cell Phone is Not Part of Your Body - You Can Let it Go!" - read more here.

Institute "Smart" Phone Boundaries...
All those mini-moments of disconnect add up!  Do you have any tips that help limit your computer/smart phone/iPad use?  Here are mine:
1 - Just like with computers and television, no smartphones or iPads at the table during mealtimes.
2 - No smartphones during time with friends and family - strive to be in the moment.  Return calls/texts later.
3 - Consider not even uploading social network apps for sites like facebook, instagram, etc. on your phone, if they pose a distraction for you.  Be with your real community, not just your "virtual" one.
4 - Check your devices only occasionally for new emails, texts, or missed calls - not out of boredom.
5 - Don't substitute kids' apps for read aloud time and playtime with your child.  Remember "face-to-face" interactions are the primary way children learn! Read more here.
6 - Turn off your smartphone when you are in a worship service at church.  Whatever it is, can wait.  (This boundary should apply to theaters and libraries too.)

If These quotes Don't Motivate You to Put Down Your Smartphone, I Don't Know What Will...
 "We are always getting ready to live but never living." 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Forever is composed of nows." 
-Emily Dickinson
"Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes a place for that." 
-John Green
"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” 
-Benjamin Franklin
"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time." 
-Abraham Lincoln


  1. It's really sad. We're holding out on getting a phone or device like that...my 12 year old has a Kindle and it's been a bit of a problem, but we've limited her time on that to just weekends and she's not to use it when we have guests.

  2. It's a double edged sword isn't it? When our boys were teenagers I liked to be able to keep track on their movements via mobile phones and now they live far away I enjoy the contact social media allows. Like most things in life we need balance and children need our undivided attention at least some of the time.

  3. This is terrific. I agree with you completely and thank you so much for writing this post.

    Speaking for my own self, I feel so sad when sharing a meal or visiting with my adult son or my mother and they are both tapping away on their iphones! It's sad ....