At Christmas, I watched a two-year-old conduct a love affair with his mother’s iPhone. “I’ll never let my son do that,” someone said in my head. Then I took out my own phone because it had been five seconds and I do this thing where I take out my phone every five seconds. My son lunged, grabbed it one-handed like Odell Beckham Jr, and shoved it into his mouth. With his own mouth, my son texted me: “Karma, you bitch.”
The Phone. The Phone. The f**king phone. My son already worships it. Can you blame him? If you were dropped onto this earth and the Large Ones who feed were constantly worshipping a glowing rectangle, what would you assume? “The Large Ones pay deference to this God. All hail, the Glowing Rectangle! Let’s shove it in our mouth!”
The battle to save our children and ourselves from the onslaught of addictive technology is the modern parents Sisphisian task. I’ve read many articles about screen time — the effect on children’s brains, remedies, and tricks for setting boundaries. Of course, I read all these articles on my phone.
As a new Dude Turned Dad, I often ask myself, “When do I need to start worrying about the phone?” My son is only eight months old. He wants my phone … but he also thinks the cord to our Insta Pot might be the key to finding the one true grail. We still have some time.
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And before he Googs his first Google, I have found something truly magical and positive about our new dystopian, neck-breaking, phone dominated existence. The camera.
The phone is bad, yes. But for new parents, it’s an essential way to capture small, beautiful moments of our children. Moments that if we’re smart and organized, we can summon at any moment. I have two videos of me as a child. My son will have thousands.
Out of these thousands, I have one particular favorite. It’s a video of my boy eating an orange slice in his high chair looking out at the New York City skyline. He’s focused on his snack, almost monk-like, observing. His whole life, the whole world, stretches before him. I do not have this moment, without the phone.
I think my answer to screen time, like so many things in our modern world, will be moderation. I am not going to suddenly become a Luddite. My son will probably watch Paw Patrol on my phone someday. But we don’t have to be slaves to The Glowing Rectangle.
The phone is a tool. It’s a memory machine. It’s a mini documentarian who works recording the little moments of your life. Use it. Don’t let it use your kid. And don’t let it use you.