Saturday, December 7, 2013

Feeling judged about using your smartphone when with your kids?

Do you ever feel judged for using your smartphone while you're with your children? I haven't ever had anyone say anything to me, but it comes up in conversation & I feel like people are judging me for it. There has been a bit of hoopla online about it, plus I have heard a few things recently about technology preventing us from really connecting with each other. But I really think it's just another round of mother-shaming & here's why.

When I'm at the park, my thumb poking at my smartphone as my three-year-old plays, I'm often talking to my husband, a friend or someone in my family via text message or chat. Sometimes I'm grocery shopping or reading an article on parenting or checking work-related emails. At least once a day I'm taking photos or video of something my kids are doing that I want to share with their grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins. I'm not sure why using my phone to do these things is bad.

What I am sure of, is that I would not be bonding with my children if I had to drag the both of them to the grocery store instead. Letting my kid play in the playground & his sister nap in her stroller while I shop, right there on the park bench seems like a much better alternative.

Since we are not independently wealthy millionaires, we can't afford childcare, so I squeeze in some blogging & writing work here & there while I can. Which means me being on my phone (or tablet, or netbook) while my kid plays or while breastfeeding.

My mom, sisters, cousins, aunts & uncles are on Facebook &/or Instagram. We get to see each other's children & hear about what's going on in each other's lives way more since we've started using social media regularly. I think me being connected with my family is good for my children.

Sometimes I'm just surfing Facebook while my son plays, it's true. But I feel that even that is a valid thing because it's what enables me to connect with other adults, but maybe more importantly, give & get support from other parents I know about this incredibly difficult role we're all playing. Dishing or commiserating with other moms in person is always awesome, but not often possible with everyone's different preschool, nap time, work & other schedules factored in.

Another response I have to the criticism of moms being on smartphones is to ask how is this different from things that existed for our parents & previous generations. For example, how is it different if I'm reading a novel on my phone--because I do use it as an eReader--rather than holding a real, paper book in my hands? How is chatting with my mom via Facebook different to talking to her on a landline? I'm sure that if I was having a conversation with another mom at the park, nobody would look askance, so why is it different if that other mom is chatting virtually, perhaps from another park in another city?

Obviously having a phone between a parent & her child literally ALL THE TIME would be bad & impede attachment, but who does that? All the moms you see with their smart phone in hand aren't using it 24/7. They're just trying to get one more thing done.

What's your take on this? Do you use your smartphone when you're with your kids? Do you ever get any flak for it?

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  1. I'm on my smartphone right now, with my kid. I use it for much of the same reasons as you. But today, I need an escape. I'm not playing games or anything but when I am with my child and am feeling like I need some 'me' time, that's what I do. But when you work with social media that gets mixed with me time. People will always judge based on very little information. We can't stop them.

  2. Great topic. I was doing a crossword on my iPhone at the playground recently while my kids played. They really do not need me at the playground - it's fully fenced, the equipment is safe, and they are 3 and almost-6 years old. They play really well together! Why on earth would I mess with that? That's why I have two kids - so they can hopefully be buddies! I said something like "5 more minutes girls" then went back to my puzzle, and a dad said to me something like "how would you know they're even here, you're so busy texting?!" I really did not need his approval or anything so I kind of ignored him, but I was quite annoyed! If' I'd had a newspaper in front of me instead and was doing the puzzle with a pen, would he have been so judge-y? And wasn't he just enjoying his time at the playground from behind a camera lens instead of actually playing with his little toddler (who actually needed his help, she was around 18 months old)? When we were kids lots of moms watched soap operas - mine didn't because of work and lack of interest, but she ignored me in many other ways! A healthy part of parenting is having your own needs met, being aware of your kids and their needs, but also working/socializing/entertaining yourself. 10 years ago you would have been talking on the phone, 20 years ago maybe reading a hard copy magazine or something? Kids need to play independently sometimes! And parents need breaks!

    *end rant*


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