I remember the moment vividly. I was playing with my toddler then reached for my cell phone. She took one look at my phone and burst into tears, while continuing to stare at my phone. I felt horrible and threw it down and went to her. After a few less emotional probably fake cries she stopped. She hadn’t been feeling well, but still, to her the phone meant I was going to a place where she couldn’t join me. An adult cyber world, and she felt left out.
Jealous…of an inanimate object, you say. Well why not? Women the world over are jealous of the TV and mothers are jealous of the playstation. We can be jealous of anything that we feel robs us of desired attention, whether it breathes or not. So, they could be jealous of your smartphone. Not because they don’t have one, but because they feel they don’t have you. Envy is wanting something someone else has. Jealousy is wanting what is rightfully ours.
Back in the day the phone was only used if you were talking on it. Now phones are used for talking, texting, reading, making lists, social networking, games, and just about everything else you can think of. Since a lot of our world can be accessed by our phones we can tend to go through the day using them constantly. There will be times when using our phone is necessary, but I’ve found that the majority of the time I’m on my phone, it isn’t. Maybe I’m the only mother in the world who is tempted to be on her phone a lot, but I have a feeling I’m not.
Thoughts on smart phones.
1) Signs they are jealous of your phone. If they get fussy or angry when you’re using your phone then they could be feeling jealous (anything that vies for their attention they can get jealous of). If they are old enough to say “you’re always playing with your phone” then you know you got a problem.
2) Letting children play games on phones or iPads can be a great thing, but shouldn’t be used as a babysitter. Letting children play games is a good way to show them that the phone is not simply an adult toy, but a tool. Of course games are no substitute for a person as a teacher, but because they are interative kids really enjoy them. We have a doodle app, an app that repeats what is spoken to it, and a memory app. We break them out in waiting rooms, airports, and when we know we need to kill some time and keep the toddler happy. As long as they are not given to the child willy nilly all day just to occupy them so you can do other things, I think they’re a good treat!
3) Try putting it away and checking it at regular intervals. I do best when the phone is far away from me. I used to make fun of the early iphoners who would’t carry on a conversation without stopping to google something. “Hmm, I wonder what the weather will be like tomorrow?” “Oh, I’ll tell you right now.” I must admit, information at my fingertips takes some mystery out of life for me. If I am playing with the kids and have the phone nearby I am tempted to use it every time a thought comes into my mind that I want an answer or resolution for. I find that if I put the phone in another room with the ringer on then I can just forget about it. Every hour or few hours I’ll go make sure nothing totally life shattering has been tweeted, and then I’ll leave it again. It helps me stay in the real world, my kids’ world.
4) If you have to use it, let them watch you. Don’t let it be a mystery they can’t share. Sometimes when I have to make a call or do something that actually is important, I see my toddler standing under me staring at me inquisitevely. So when I can, I show her what I am doing. “See, we are calling daddy” or “0-4-3-3-6..” That helps her to feel involved and, after a second or two, she goes about her merry way. Kids easily grow tired of things, but if something is never available or elusive to them, they will not only not grow tired of it, they will become increasingly more interested.
5) Being available to everyone else all the time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I read a great article recently saying that being a good friend does not mean you’re available 24/7. Then I read a postcard on pinterest that said “Sorry, I’ve been a crap friend lately. It’s because I’ve been busy being an awesome mom!” I think both are true. Sometimes, we need to not actually be available. Sometimes we can miss a call or a text or a message and, I don’t know, get back to them a few days later. In this day of instant communication we feel pressured to respond immediately and be available every waking moment. I actually find the less “plugged in” I am, the better. Don’t get me wrong. I love smart phones and tablets and all the rest. But some balance is in order.
Ten years ago the TV might have been the child’s competition and now it may be our smart phones. Half the time we are probably taking pictures of them and posting them on instagram, but our kids don’t know that! Rule of thumb, if the thought of leaving your phone in another room for the whole morning seems impossible to you then maybe, just maybe, you should test yourself. See if leaving it there enriches your time with your tots!
PS – Visit the Archives for more articles!