I still remember how I would scold my teenage daughter about the way she used her smart phone. You see, my husband got a Samsung Galaxy for my daughter and she became stuck on the device. I watched her withdraw from everything around her little by little. I don’t know which annoyed me the most- the fact that she was always asking me for money to subscribe her phone as she usually put it, or the fact that she would always have her phone in her hands, eyes glaring at the screen, typing whatever it was that she was typing and laughing carelessly, or the fact that she was always running around with her charger looking for the next light socket tocharge her phone. It seemed her phone created another world for her, a world she had more interest in than the world that was in front of her – us, her family.
I was content using my Java script phone, it served me well. On the evening of my 40th birthday, my husband gifted me with an Iphone,In his words, “Upgrade my dear, you need to stop living in the past”. I didn’t think I needed it, but I wasn’t going to turn down a gift, especially not when it was coming from my husband.
Reluctantly, I inserted my sim card into it and with the help of my daughter, I started to maneuver my way around the device. It was confusing and pointless at first but as time went on, as I better got to understand the functionalities and got acquainted with how to use the social media apps, it began to feel like I had been blind all alongand now I could see!
I registered with Facebook, Instagram and even Twitter, call it midlife crises, I wanted to be on every app. I downloaded games – candy crush and others, it wasn’t long before I stopped judging my daughter, in fact we became alike.
I went everywhere with my phone, watching funny skits, reading posts and comments on different platforms, I even posted some myself. When my youngest daughter needed assistance with her assignment, I willed it to the maid to take care of it. My food had gotten burnt severally and I had gone to bed late at night because I was engrossed in a video or discussion on line, I was a pro atcommenting on posts. Many times my husband would angrily say, “you’ve been on your phone for too long, drop it!” same thing I used to say to my daughter.
My phone consumed me and before I knew it, I preferred spending time on my phone than having a good old conversation with the kids. Alot of the kid’s activities passed me by while in this act but the day I drove my five year old to school in her uniform only to see the other kids dressed in traditional attire was my day of reckoning.
“Why didn’t you tell me today is your cultural day” I angrily asked her as I pulled up at her school gate.
“Mummy I told you but you were pressing your phone, the same way you were pressing your phone and told me you were coming the day I told you that Nneka twist my hand”
I turned around in shock. “Nneka twisted your arm?!” Nneka was our maid.
She nodded quietly. “I even failed the assignment she taught me.” I remembered not supervising that particular work, and to be honest, I didn’t supervise most of them.
It hit me that even though I was there at home with the kids, I wasn’t really there. Things were happening to my kids right in front of my eyes and I was missing out on everything. It was my wake up call.
I turned the car around, I couldn’t let her go in dressed in her mufti while her mates were dressed in their traditional attires. She would miss out on her day and it was all my fault. I felt disappointed in myself.
As parents, some of us have become as guilty as our children when it comes to the misuse of gadgets. We get so engrossed in these things that we miss out on what really matters – family. There is nothing wrong with owing a gadget be it a smart phone, an Ipad or a Computer, there is nothing wrong with whiling away some time onit either, however, when spending time on these devices start to get in the way of interacting with those around us or take priority over spending time with our children or worst, becomes an addiction, then it is time to pause and reprioritize. If we don’t, it would have a negative impact on our kids.
Take for instance, you take your child to the park and he or she is playing on the swings or simply running around at some distance, you get bored and decide to swipe through photos on Instagram, notfor a few minutes but it goes on for a prolonged period of time. Within the minutes your head is bent focusing on your screen, your child could trip over a sharp object or worse, be abducted.
Spending excessive time on your phone could also leave your child feeling sad, unimportant and emotionally abandoned by you. This can lead to your child becoming socially awkward or overly active at social gatherings as a way of calling for the attention he lacks at home.
Head aches, eye problems and anxiety are other impacts that have being associated with spending too much time on gadgets.
But, you have to reply those mails somehow right? Have that discussion with your colleagues, engage in those group chats, return important text messages. You can do all of that and still have time for your kids, it’s all about balance. Decide to give your self a stipulated time to spend browsing the Internet everyday, the problem is, we get carried away easily, we could intend to play only three stages of a game or watch just a few skits but we get comfortable, plank ourselves out on the couch and browse away for hours unending. So, it is best to time ourselves and do all that we need to do within that time frame, once the time is up, put off your data to avoid those tempting notifications and attend only to phone calls.
If you are addicted and it is almost impossible to get off your phone by yourself, encourage your husband help keep you in check, and if that still doesn’t work, then maybe it’s time to consider uninstalling all those apps that take all of your attention, not too much of a price to pay for your family is it?.
The children would not always be with you, they would grow up and go out into the world, but what you do with them, what you share with them would always be instilled in their hearts, they would carry it wherever they go. Don’t let any gadget get in the way of making beautiful and long lasting memories with your kids.
OGBUGOH TERUNDU JOY ESQ.
Happy Children’s day to our precious little ones and may we never intentionally fail them.