Recently at Glennie, we reviewed our smart devices policy, made changes to reflect current trends and to assist the girls in avoiding the distractions that a mobile phone presents. We as adults find those distractions quite compelling as Kevin Roose, a columnist for the New York Times reflected;
I found myself incapable of reading books, watching full-length movies or having long uninterrupted conversations. Social media made me angry and anxious, and even the digital spaces I once found soothing (group texts, podcasts, YouTube k-holes) weren’t helping.
As parents, the habits we display influences our children’s behaviour; from how we speak to others to our lifestyle choices, and our children look to us to lead by example even if it doesn’t seem that way when they are teenagers. How is our use of technology, particularly how we use our mobile phones, setting the standard for our children?
As I travel or attend an event, I find it fascinating how the overwhelming majority seem to want to capture the moment on their phones; to check in, Instagram or Snapchat the experience. Sadly, by focusing on a rectangular screen, it becomes impossible to step back and be taken away by the moment. With too much attention given to capturing the perfect video or photo, the beauty and atmosphere is wholly missed. Sadder still, often the image does not do the situation justice and the power and gravity of a situation can be filtered out, glossed over and lost. Fireworks are the perfect example; they are nowhere near as captivating on screen as they are when you are there.
We ask our children to engage with those around them, participate in experiences and be present rather than constantly checking their devices, we need to ask ourselves if we are leading by example. Do we put our phones aside while we eat a meal or have coffee with a friend and pay full attention to the conversation? Do we listen to our children as they tell us about their day with our ears on them but our eyes on our screen? I, too can be guilty of this and make excuses when work beckons or I need to check my text messages in case of urgent matters. However, in everyday scenarios, the question at these moments needs to become ‘do I need to do this right now, or can I pause for a moment and really listen; fostering and strengthening the connection with the people and the world around me?’
As I remember back to special moments in my life, I am sure that if I had a photograph or video of the situation that it would not nearly be the same, and maybe my perspective has been skewed because of the emotion I felt, or maybe time has altered my memory slightly. But that’s OK, isn’t it?
That memory was created by me fully participating in the moment, by being fully present, not watching it happen from behind a screen.
Photo credit: “Absorbed by light” is a sculpture in Amsterdam that brilliantly captures our smartphone addiction.
Mrs Jo Matherson