By Rabbi Shea Hecht
Parents nowadays are very busy people – and so are their children, even the babies. Most are working, some even have two jobs, and everyone has a cell phone. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t know how to text a message to a friend, either.
It seems the only thing left is to try and give birth by fax – or through Skype.
Hi-tech telephony is such a part of everyday life that the government passed laws to stop multi-tasking drivers from talking and texting while driving.
No one has thought of applying the same legislation to baby carriages yet – but maybe we should take a second look.
Have you ever walked in a busy downtown area about 25 minutes before the start of Standard Office Time? Try it.
Last week I saw the most amazing sight: two mothers in business suits pushing three-wheeled baby carriages, both on cell phones and neither one looking at either child.
One of the babies was sleeping, but the other was a toddler who was trying to catch his mother’s attention. She was too busy, however, so he decided to take matters into his own hands, and simply climbed out of the stroller as she reached the corner.
When the walk light changed, Mom kept going, and Junior stayed behind – headed back, in fact, to see a toy in a display window that had caught his eye a few stores back. A passerby grabbed him, calling to his mother.
Needless to say, she was red-faced with embarrassment and not a little shocked. Her friend, meanwhile, hurried ahead to get to the daycare center.
This is a little out of the ordinary, I know, and I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched. But happen it did.
But it seems to me that while technology is being used to keep us “all connected,” it is also driving us further apart.
Parents and kids spend more time on computers and phones, and watching movies and television, than they spend on direct interaction with each other. Cell phones are especially convenient and even essential as a safety measure in a world where one must be able to reach a parent in an emergency. But there is still the issue of when it makes sense to answer the call, and when it makes sense to hold the conversation for later.
Another “modern improvement” that has led to the disconnect is the forward-facing design of baby strollers, intended to give the child a real-time, entertaining view of the world around him.
It does indeed keep Junior busy and happy, but disrupts the crucial bonding process that should be taking place between parent and child — one that was a “given” just a generation ago.
What I’m saying is this: cell phones and baby carriages, like anything else, are tools intended to improve our daily quality of life, helping us connect with each other. But when used improperly, those same items can drive families apart.
Beware the day when the disconnect goes two ways, and you some day find yourself saying to your kid, “Hey, you – how come you never talk to me anymore?”