Put the phone down, and back away slowly.

Listen up folks, because I think we’re heading down a dangerous path. Usually you hear me evangelizing new mobile media tactics, amazing designs that make our lives easier and allow us to consume information, entertainment and social media anytime, anywhere. I mean, I *am* the #mobilediva, right?

It’s time to put the phone down.

Lately I have become keenly aware of parents ignoring their children because they cannot disconnect from the mobile web. I recently saw a woman continually ignore her son in a grocery store because she was reading/responding to something on her mobile device. It was heartbreaking. I stood there in line, silently judging this idiot of a woman. I mean how could you ignore that sweet little boy? How many years do you think you have left until he doesn’t want or need your attention in this way? What the fuck are you doing?!!

Then it occurred to me. I’ve done this. I’ve done the “just a minute”, and the “hang on I just have to send this…” to my kids. I’m an idiot too. I’d be willing to bet a lot of you are guilty of this, at least to some degree. If you deny it, I call bullshit.

After thinking about it more, I came to the following conclusion:

If my child EVER thinks FOR A SINGLE MOMENT that whatever the heck is on my mobile device is more important than her, then I am a giant douche of a parent.

I don’t want to be a douche. I don’t want my kids to think that I care more about ANYTHING than them. I’m turning over a new leaf. I will not only be more mindful of my mobile device usage around them, but I will purposefully outlaw mobile usage during most daily family activities. In addition to potentially giving my kids a complex, I could miss out on the moments that I can’t ever get back. They aren’t going to want to build forts and snuggle up on movie night forever. They are absolutely ecstatic when I walk through the door each evening, how long will that last? For everything good that our interactive lives bring into the mix, if not balanced with actually living your life, it can be destructive.

Got teenagers? Take heed. It may not seem like they care or notice. They do. They just quietly resent you for not trying harder to connect with them. Believe that.

When you boil it all down, it’s like anything else. Moderation. Being connected through mobile technology can be awesome, let’s face it, it’s pretty cool. Let’s just use a little common sense. Let’s be GREAT parents first. (Then you have my permission to check The Twitter.)

So let’s *not* be douche-y together. Let’s put the phone down and be a family. Who’s with me?

15 comments

  1. lo

    Sara – Great point made. It spoke to me, and I don’t even have kids. Truth is, we shouldn’t be putting anyone off for something we’re accessing on our mobile devices… not our husbands, our friends, our coworkers. They deserve our deeply undivided attention. Cuz when it all boils down… life is about the people we love.

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  2. Sue Spaight

    Sara,

    Wanted to let you know that your post made a difference, for my family last night. I didn’t check the phone once all evening. We played a game of good old-fashioned non-digital non-iPad Scrabble, and it rocked : )

    Thanks again for the smack upside the head! No one can do it quite like you. ; )

    Sue Spaight

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  3. Sara

    These are such great comments you guys.

    Sara – I know!! I frequently talk to groups about leveraging “mobile habits” in their marketing plans. We DO develop habits with our phones. We don’t even know we are doing it sometimes. That’s what I realized. I almost automatically check my work email and Twitter a bazillion times a day! Argh! We already had some basic rules in this house for no technology times, but we are upping it, just to keep it from creeping into our time together. We are going to try a lot harder to be present.

    Bruce – What a great point. Seriously, thank you for sharing that. I don’t want to lose my ability to be present in LIFE. I don’t want to teach my kids that they have to be “occupied”. I would hate for them to miss out on the simple pleasures because they were wrapped up in digital gadgets with reckless abandon! :)

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